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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 






THIRTY-FIVE years ago I prepared, con amore, a 
series of papers on " The History of Charlestown," 
my native place, designed for the local newspaper ; 
but they were published in pamphlet form. The 
first number appeared in 1845, and six additional 
numbers brought the history down to the period of 
the battle of Bunker Hill. 

In the same spirit I then made collections relative 
to the opening scenes of the war of the Revolution ; 
and, as there was no complete narrative of these 
events, I published in 1849 the "History of the Siege 
of Boston, and of the Battles of Lexington, Concord, 
and Bunker Hill." 

In these researches I became familiar with the po- 
litical career of Joseph Warren, and began to frame 
a narrative of the transactions in which he figured as 
a political leader ; and this was the occasion of the 
preparation of " The Life and Times of Joseph War- 
ren," published in 1865. 

I also furnished articles more or less elaborate to a 
Boston daily newspaper, on points of American his- 
tory, as an occasional contributor from 1838 to 1852, 


and for the succeeding thirteen years as one of the 
proprietors and editors. An article on the Declara- 
tion of Independence, dealing with principles, printed 
on the Fourth of July, 1842, another, on the suc- 
ceeding anniversary relating facts, and a third on 
the 2d of March, 1854, on the first covenant of the 
country, fill several columns, and would make a 
considerable pamphlet. These papers, to say nothing 
of others, relate to the formative process of the na- 
tion. 1 

These circumstances, with others not necessary to 
be stated, led me to historical research having in view 
the one clear and distinct object of tracing the de- 
velopment of the national life; a theme separate from 
the ordinary course of civil and military transactions, 
and requiring events to be selected from their rela- 
tion to principles, and to be traced to their causes. 
The theme, as Iwent on, seemed to grow beyond my 
reach. I well knew that it was only by patient labor, 
that I could hope to justify the attempt to deal with it. 
I tried to form in my mind a picture of the many 
streams that met and united in the current which ter- 

1 It is said that there has not been a single writer "who has attempted to 
distinguish between the History of the United States and the Political Literature of 
the country; that is, in giving an account of the facts, of a public or private nature, 
that controlled the events of any era or epoch, almost all have altogether failed to 
look to the inner influence, so to speak, of the writings, the proceedings of public 
bodies, the state papers, that in each case preceded and moulded and accompanied 
every important occurrence of the different phases of our national existence. They 
hare confined their attention too much to the effect of the development of both the 
political and social progress of our earlier existence, and have paid too little heed to 
the causes of the gradual expansion of political opinions and the origin of our steady 
and successful advance to independence and constitutional government." The 
Ptnn Monthly, for August, 1871, vol. ii. 379. 


minated in the broad expanse of a nation. I also 
endeavored to form an idea of the spirit of the men 
of the past, from their own words uttered in the midst 
of their labors, and wet as it were with the sweat of 
their brows, of the conservatives who tried to stay 
the current, as well as of the men of progress who 
recognized it and were borne onward by it. Yet the 
attainment of the ideal is but the commencement of 
the work. The difficulty is to make the page alive 
with the moving waters. I feel conscious that this is 
but imperfectly done. 

I am indebted to Rev. EDWIN H. CHAPIN, D.D., for 
files of Philadelphia newspapers during the Revolu- 
tionary period; and to Hon. CHARLES H* WARREN, for 
the original letter of John Adams, printed in the Ap- 
pendix. For valuable aid in preparing the work for 
the press, I express grateful acknowledgments to WIL- 



Sept. 12, 1872. 






Introduction 1 

Territory which became the United 

States 1 

Designed by Providence to be the 

Abode of a Great Nation ... 2 
Growth of the Population .... 3 
Their Relation of Union .... 4 
Character of the Aborigines ... 4 
The Land awaiting a New Civiliza- 
tion 5 

Preparation in the Old World for 

Colonization 5 

Pagan Idea of Man 6 

Christian Idea of Man 6 

Transformation of Society effected 

by Christianity 6 

Its Political Consequences .... 7 
Pioneers of the Republican School : 

George Buchanan 7 

Hubert Lanquet 8 

John Milton 8 

John Locke 8 

Algernon Sidney 9 

International Law respecting Rights 

to the Soil 9 

Migrations, Individual 10 

Ancestry of the American Race . . 10 
Motives of the Colonists .... 11 
Their Boldness in applying Prin- 
ciples 11 


Polity of the United States peculiar 11 

" E Pluribus Unum " 11 

Circumstances that created Diver- 
sity 12 

Ideas that produced Union ... 12 
Local Self-government and Union 
the Elements of the Polity of the 

United States ....'... 13 

Local Self-government 14 

Among the Germans .... 14 

Among the Saxons .... 14 

Undermined by the Crown . . 15 

Applied by the Colonists . . 15 

In Municipal Government . . 16 

In Representation 17 

The Formation of Assemblies . . 18 

The Formation of Municipalities . 19 

The Elective Franchise .... 25 

The Public Meeting 27 

Product of Local Self-government . 28 

Idea of National Union .... 28 

Early Conception of Union ... 28 
Embodiments of Union during' the 

Colonial Period 29 

Urged in a Spirit of Allegiance to 

the Crown 30 

Union at the Revolution urged in 
the view of forming an Independ- 
ent Nation 30 

Foundations of the Republic ... 31 




1643 TO 1684. 


Society in the Colonies, developed 

first under the Law of Diversity . 33 
Settlements in North America in 

1643 33 

Maps of the Country 34 

Progress of Colonization .... 34 

How directed by England .... 35 

General Assault by the Indians . . 36 

New England in 1643 36 

Charged with aiming at Sover- 
eignty 37 

Protestations of Loyalty .... 38 

Appeal of Edward Winslow for Aid 38 

The Colonies cast on themselves . 38 

They aim at Union 39 

Confederation of 1643 39 

Congratulation of Thomas Hooker . 40 
Articles of the Confederation ... 40 
Character of the Confederation . . 42 
Qualification of Church Member- 
ship 43 

Benefits of the Confederation . . 44 

Long Parliament and New England 44 

Jealousy of New England ... 45 

Lords of Trade and Plantations . . 45 

Appeals to this Board 45 

Answer of Massachusetts .... 46 

Magna Charta cited 46 

Charge of aiming at Sovereignty . 46 

Answer of Edward Winslow ... 47 

Appeals disallowed 47 

The Colonies and the Long Parlia- 
ment 47 

The Colonies and Cromwell ... 48 
New England Confederation pros- 
perous 48 

Eliot's Christian Commonwealth . 49 

Restoration of Charles II 49 

Clarendon and Republicanism . . 49 

Council for Foreign Plantations . . 50 


Complaints against New England . 51 

The Colonies and the Sovereignty . 51 

Charge of aiming at Independence . 51 

Charters of Charles II 52 

Subordination to the Sovereignty . 53 
Grant to the Duke of York ... 53 
Creation of a Special Commission . 54 
Empowered to regulate the Inter- 
nal Affairs of New England . . 54 
Commissioners' Arrival in Boston . 54 
Reduction of New Netherland . . 55 

Geographical Unity 55 

Massachusetts and the Commission 55 
The Commissioners and Three Colo- 
nies 55 

In Massachusetts 56 

Aid the General Election . . 57 
Confer with the General Court 57 
The Commission asserts its Author- 
ity 58 

The General Court nullifies its Acts 59 
The Commissioners charge the Gen- 
eral Court with denying the Sov- 
ereignty 59 

Answer of the General Court ... 60 
Illegality of the Commission ... 62 
Decline of the Confederacy ... 63 
Meetings of the Commissioners . . 63 
Public Mind not ripe for Union . . 64 
Loyalty of New England .... 65 
Views of the Confederacy ... 66 
Absurdity of the Charge of Inde- 
pendence 66 

Affection for England 67 

Prophecies concerning America . . 68 

Seneca's Venient Annis .... 68 

Lines on America by Pulci ... 70 

Herbert 70 

Cowley 71 





1684 TO 1690. 

Preparation for a Congress ... 72 

North America in 1688 72 

Maps of the Country 73 

Numbers of the French and English 73 
The Twelve English Colonies . . 73 
Their General Characteristics . . 75 
Spirit of the Local Governments . 76 
Privy Council order American Af- 
fairs 77 

Debates in this Board ... * . 78 
Consolidation of the Colonial Gov- 
ernments resolved on .... 78 

Accession of James II 79 

Question of American Taxation . . 79 

Edward Randolph 79 

Reign of Despotic Power . . . 
Opposition roused in the Colonies 
Overthrow of Andros .... 
Results of Popular Action . . . 
Accession of William and Mary . 
Rise of Jacob Liesler .... 
Opposition to his Authority . . 

Intercolonial Correspondence . . . 
Designs of France in America . . 
The Five Nations desire Peace . . 
Conference of Four Colonies at Al- 

Increasing Danger from France . . 
Call for the New England Confeder- 

. 84 
. 85 



Factions in New York 88 

Burning of Schenectady .... 88 

Massachusetts invites a Congress . 89 

Replies of the Colonies 90 

Meeting of Commissioners .... 91 

Agreement to raise a Military Force 92 

Result of Military Operations . . 93 

Execution of Jacob Liesler ... 93 

Career of Simon Bradstreet ... 95 

Enthusiasm for William and Mary . 96 

Charge of Independence .... 97 

Absurdity of this Charge . . . . 98 

Prosperity of the English Colonies . 99 

Prophecy of Thomas Browne . . 99 



1690 TO 1760. 

The Law of Diversity paramount 

for Seventy Years 101 

North America in 1760 .... 101 

General Maps 102 

Races of the Colonists .... 103 

Governments of Thirteen Colonies 104 
Their Population and Political 

Weight 104 

Characteristics of the New-Eng- 

landers 105 

The Colonies a Great American 

Asylum 106 

Traits of an American . 107 

Spirit of British Administrations . 107 
The Lords of Trade and Planta- 
tions 108 

French and Indian W us .... 108 

Common Danger suggested Union 109 

Need of an American Constitution 110 

Plan of Union, by William Penn . 110 

By Charles Davenant ... Ill 
Contemporary Criticism on these 

Plans 112 

Plan of Union by Daniel Coxe . . 113 

The Popular Party and Union . . 114 

The Prerogative Party and Union 114 




Scheme of Robert Livingston . . 115 
Of Archibald Kennedy ... 116 
Proposal of Governor Dinwiddie . 136 
Objects of the Two Parties com- 
pared 117 

Congresses and Conventions . . 118 

Congresses from 1684 to 1751 . . 118 

Speech of Governor Clinton . . . 120 

Intercolonial Correspondence . . 121 
Jealousy by the Crown of American 

Action 121 

Development of Self-government . 121 
Fidelity to its Principles .... 123 
The Crown regarded as a Protector 123 
Royal Governors and Self-govern- 
ment 124 

The Privy Council and Local Gov- 
ernment 125 

The Lords of Trade and the Pre- 
rogative 125 

Illegal Exercise of the Prerogative 125 

Resisted by the Assemblies . . . 125 

Claims of the Prerogative . . . 127 
State Papers circulated by the 

Press 128 

The NeAvspaper in America . . . 129 

Encroachments of the French . . 130 

Inefficiency of the Lords of Trade . 131 

Views of Halifax and Townshend . 131 

The Crown decide to resist France 131 

Call of a Convention at Albany . 132 

The Colonists and the French . . 133 


Speech of Washington .... 133 
Royal Governors commend the 

Convention 134 

Condition of the Colonies .... 136 

Meeting of the Convention . . . 137 

Character of its Members . . . 138 

Nature of the Commissions . . . 139 

Conferences with the Indians . . 139 

Resolve that Union is a Necessity . 140 

The Committee to report a Plan . 140 

Franklin's Plan 141 

Report of the Committee .... 142 

Albany Plan of Union 142 

Referred to the Assemblies . . . 144 
Commended in the Press .... 145 
Recommended by Royal Governors 146 
Rejected by the Assemblies . . . 146 
Neglected by Lords of Trade . . 148 
Character of the Albany Plan . . 148 
Franklin's Conception of a Self-sus- 
taining Government .... 149 
Fatal Objection to the Plan . . . 150 
Discussion of Plans of Union . . 151 
Predictions that Union was Im- 
possible 151 

Conquest of Canada 152 

General Rejoicing 153 

Charge of aiming at Independence 153 

Prophecies of the Future .... 155 

Description of America .... 156 

Love of Liberty 157 



1760 TO 1766. 

An Epoch in History . . . 
The American Revolution 
The Thirteen Colonies . . . 
George III. and Lord Bute . 
Policy respecting America . 
Embodied in Instructions on 

Acts of Trade 

In the Declaratory Resolves . 
Formation of Parties . . . 




Whigs based on the Christian Idea 
of Man 165 

Tories based on the Supremacy of 

Effect of the Declaratory Resolves 
Boston and Samuel Adams . . . 
Instructions enjoining United Ef- 

The General Court and James Otis 






His Rights of the British Colonies 169 

Committees of Correspondence . . 171 

Petitions of the Assemblies . . . 172 

Tone of the Press 174 

Passage of the Stamp Act . . . 175 

Speech of Isaac Barre" ..... 176 

Resistance of the Sons of Liberty . 177 

James Otis on Union 177 

Call by Massachusetts of a Con- 
gress 178 

Response of the Colonies .... 178 

Virginia and Patrick Henry . . 179 

Resolves on the Stamp Act ... 180 

Fame of the Resolves 181 

Response of Providence to Massa- 
chusetts and Virginia .... 181 
South Carolina and Christopher 

Gadsden 182 

Thirteen Colonies express Sym- 
pathy with a Congress .... 182 
Associations to resist the Stamp 
Act . 183 


Popular Uprisings and Outrages . 18& 

Political Excitement in New York 184 

The Stamp-act Congress .... 185 

Declaration of Rights 186 

Resolves and Petition .... 187 

Sentiments of its Members . . . 188 

Speech of Christopher Gadsden . 188 

Signing of the Petition .... 188 

Reception of the Proceedings . . 189 

Sentiment of Union 189 

Embodied by the Assemblies . . 190 

The Prerogative Party and Union 191 

The Popular Party and Union . . 192 

Terms America and Country . . 192 

Assertion of the Rights of Labor . 193 

Growth of Union 195 

Joy on the Repeal of the Stamp 

Act 196 

Tory Charge of Independence .- . 197 
Whig Resolve to defend American 

Liberty 198 

Prophecies concerning America . 199 



1766 TO 1770. 

A Constitutional Opposition and 

Public Opinion 201 

Repeal of the Stamp Act 

In America 201 

In England 202 

Charles Townshend on America . 203 

The Townshend Revenue Acts . . 204 

Their Object political 204 

Their Aggression on the Right to 

make the Local Law .... 205 

Death of Townshend 206 

Lord North and Lord Hillsborough 206 
A Xew Political Movement on the 

Basis of Social Order .... 206 

James Otis on Mobs 206 

Jonathan Mayhew on Union . . 207 

The Farmers' Letters 208 


The Non-importation Agreement . 

Meeting of the Assembly of Massa- 
chusetts 209 

Their Letter to their Agent in Lon- 
don 210 

Their Petition to the King ... 211 

Their Circular Letter suggesting 
Concurrent Action 212 

Reply of the Assembly of New 

Hampshire 213 

Of Virginia 213 

, Of New Jersey 214 

Of Connecticut 214 

Royal Order to rescind the Circu- 
lar Letter 214 

Communicated by Governor Ber- 
nard 216 




Denunciation b} r James Otis . . 217 
The Assembly refuses to rescind 

the Letter 218 

The Vote of Ninety-two .... 219 

Bernard dissolves the Assembly . 220 

Profound Sensation in the Colonies 221 
Royal Order to treat the Circular 

Letter with Contempt .... 221 

The Press on this Order .... 222 

Question of the Circular Letter and 

Royal Order in Maryland . . . 223 

In South Carolina .... 223 

In Georgia 224 

In Rhode Island 225 

In Pennsylvania 225 

In Delaware 226 

In New York 226 

In North Carolina .... 227 
Popular Approval of the Assem- 
blies 227 

The Action new in the Political 

World 228 

4 ' Ninety -two " and " Forty-five ' ' 229 
The Prayer of the Colonies to the 

Sovereignty 230 

Fate of the Petitions 231 

The Arraignment of Massachu- 
setts 231 

The Colonists charged with Trea- 
son 232 

Decision to transport the Popular 

Leaders to England 232 

Attitude of Virginia 233 

Lord Botetourt 233 

Meeting of the Burgesses . . . 234 


Thomas Jefferson 234 

Resolves of the Burgesses . . . 235 
Their Reception in the Colonies . 237 
Their Endorsement by the Assem- 
blies 238 

Virginia gives an Impulse to the 

Non-importation Agreement . . 238 

Rise of an American Spirit . . . 240 
Partial Repeal of the Townshend 

Acts 240 

Effect of the Attempt to check Re- 
publicanism ....... 241 

Progress in Political Science . . 241 
Disclaimer of the Aim of Independ- 
ence 242 

Propositions for a Union .... 242 
Union Movement of the Presb}'- 

terians 243 

Prophecy of Thomas Hutchinson . 244 
Of William Livingston of an 

American Constitution . . 244 
Prophecies of Independence : 

Of Samuel Adams .... 245 

Of the French Agents ... 245 

Of Chatelet 245 

Of Turgot 245 

Of Choiseul 245 

The Embodiment of Public Opin- 
ion elicited by the Townshend 

Acts . . -246 

European Sympathy with the Am- 
erican Cause 246 

The Cause of Humanity .... 247 

The Rising Glory of America . . 248 



MARCH, 1770, TO AUGUST, 1773. 

From an Embodiment of Public 

Opinion to Organization . . . 249 
The Tory Party attain Power . . 249 
Its aim to check Republicanism . 250 
Its Ideas embodied in the Declara- 
tory Act 250 

Its Design to undermine the Local 
Governments 251 

By the Method of Royal Instruc- 
tions 251 

Law accepted by the Whigs . . . 251 
Instructions under the King's Sign- 
manual claimed to have the Force 

of Law 252 

Effectually resisted by the Whigs . 253 
Ability of their Argument . . . 254 



Reliance on the Non-importation 

Agreement 256 

Failure of this Agreement . . . 257 
Dissension and War between the 

Colonies 258 

Political Agitation subsides ... 259 
Fidelity of Samuel Adams ... 261 
Proposes Union and Organization 262 
By the Method of Municipal Com- 
mittees of Correspondence . . 263 
Lord Dartmouth the Head of the 

American Department .... 264 

Issues fresh Royal Instructions . . 265 
The Occasion selected by Adams 

to effect Organization . . . . 265 
Boston chooses a Committee of Cor- 
respondence 266 

Character of the Committee . . . 267 
Their Report on the American 

Cause 268 

Faith of its Authors 270 

The Response of the Towns ... 271 

Passionate Appeal for Union . . 272 
Condemnation of the Movement by 

Governor Hutchinson .... 274 
General Apathy outside of Massa- 
chusetts 275 

A bold Royal Instruction . . . 276 

Spontaneous Burst of Indignation 277 
The Commission relative to the 

Destroyers of the Gaspee . . . 278 


Tameness of the Rhode Island As- 
sembly 279 

Resolution of the Virginia House 
of Burgesses 279 

They choose a Committee of Cor- 
respondence 280 

Dabney Carr and Thomas Jeffer- 
son 281 

Response to the 'Virginia Action . 281 

Five Assemblies adopt the Vir- 
ginia Plan 283 

Call for Union and a Congress . . 284 

Failure of the Rhode Island Com- 
mission 286 

Design of transporting the Popular 
Leaders abandoned 286 

Political Agitation subsides . . . 287 

Massachusetts and Virginia . . . 288 

Inactivity of the Six Legislative 
Committees 288 

Activity of the Municipal Com- 
mittees 289 

Speculation on the Future of Am- 
erica 290 

Dawning of a Sentiment of Na- 
tionality 291 

Determined Spirit of the Ameri- 
cans 292 

Urged to prepare for a Grand Am- 
erican Commonwealth .... 292 



AUGUST, 1778, TO AUGUST, 1774. 

From Organization to Union . . 294 
Public Sentiment in Favor of a Con- 
nection with Great Britain . . 294 
The Popular Leaders and Sover- 
eignty 295 

George III. and his Advisers . . 295 

They devise the Tea Act . . . . 296 

Character of this Act 296 

Designed to establish the Principle 

of the Declaratory Act . . . . 297 

Teas consigned to Four Ports . . 298 

Reception of the News in the Colo- 
nies 298 

Nature of the Resistance contem- 
plated by the Patriots .... 299 

Their General Organization defec- 
tive 300 

Their Organization in Massachu- 
setts Efficient 300 

The Act met by an Intelligent Pub- 
lic Opinion 301 




Action of the Patriots of Philadel- 
phia 302 

Its Endorsement in Boston, New 

York, and Charleston .... 302 
Refusal of the Consignees in Boston 

to resign 303 

Circulars of Legislative Committees 303 

Public Meetings in Boston . . . 304 

Arrival of Three Ships with Teas . 304 

Spirit of the People 305 

Meeting of the Sixteenth of De- 
cember 306 

Speech of Josiah Quincy . . . 306 

The Boston Tea Party .... 307 

Destruction of the Tea .... 308 

The General Joy and Exultation . 309 

Judgment of Gordon and Ramsay 310 

The Nature of Popular Movements 311 
Six Assemblies choose Committees 

of Correspondence 311 

Inaction of the Twelve Legislative 

Committees 312 

Extension of Municipal Committees 313 
The Nullification of the Tea Act 

thorough 314 

Revival of a Spirit of Union . . 314 
Hopes indulged of a Congress . . 314 
Suggestion of an American Com- 
monwealth 314 

Political Agitation not general . . 315 
Four Months of Suspense . . . 315 
Insight and Faith of Samuel Ad- 
ams 316 

Feeling roused in England by the 

Destruction of the Tea .... 317 
Ministers judge Real Union of the 

Colonies impossible 318 


The King's Speech foreshadowing 

Penal Measures 319 

The Boston Port Act 319 

Its Reception in the Colonies . . 320 
Circulars of the Massachusetts Com- 
mittees of Correspondence . . 321 
Response to these Circulars . . . 322 
Spectacle on the First of June . . 324 
Boston in its Hour of Trial ... 325 
Contributions for its Poor . . . 325 
Letters embodying the Fraternal 

Spirit 326 

The Whigs complete their Organ- 
ization 327 

Tory View of this Organization . 328 
The Demand for a Congress ... 329 
Arrival of General Gage from Eng- 
land 329 

His Dealing with the Massachusetts 

Assembly 330 

The Call for the Congress of 1774 331 
Town Meeting in Boston .... 332 
John Adams enters Political Life . 334 
Acquiescence in the Call for a Con- 
gress 335 

Pledges to abide by its Decisions . 336 

The Solemn League and Covenant 336 
The Determination that the Recom- 
mendations of Congress should 

have the Force of Laws . . . 337 

The Tories denounce this Action . 339 

Union and Liberty 340 

History presented in this Develop- 
ment 342 

Enthusiasm created by Union . . 342 
Ezra Stiles predicts a Runnymede 

in America 343 



AUGUST, 1774, TO 1775. 

Speeches of Lords North and Ger- 

Union from Sentiment to Associa- 
tion 344 

The King proposes to alter the 
Massachusetts Charter . , . 344 

main 344 

Passage of the Regulating Acts . 346 
Their Character and Reach . . . 347 




Known first through the Bills . . 348 
Samuel Adams disclaims a Spirit 

ofKebellion 349 

Condemnation of the Acts . . . 349 
Massachusetts enjoined to refuse 

Obedience to them 350 

The Crisis of August, 1774 ... 353 
Hutchinson's Conversation with 

the King 353 

Lord Dartmouth's Instructions to 

execute the Acts 354 

General Gage proceeds to carry 

them into Effect 355 

The Uprising against them . . . 356 
Their Nullification thorough . . 357 
Words of Joseph Warren .... 357 
Presentiment that Arms must de- 
cide the Question 358 

The Congress of 1774 359 

Character of the Members . . . 360 
The Communities represented . . 361 
Organization of the Congress . . 364 
Reception of the Suffolk Resolves . 366 
Approval of the Attitude of the 

People of Massachusetts . . . 366 
Opposition of Joseph Galloway . 367 

His Scheme of Union 367 

Application for Advice from Mas- 
sachusetts 368 

Congress state to Gage that the 
Approbation of the People of 
Massachusetts was universal . . 368 
And pledge them the Support of all 

America 369 

Washington disclaims Independ- 
ence 369 

Advice to Massachusetts on Gov- 
ernment 370 

Declaration of Rights 371 

Association of the United Colonies 372 
Address to the People of Great 

Britain 374 

Address to the People of the Colo- 
nies 375 

Addresses to the Unrepresented 
Colonies .... .375 


Petition to the King 376 

Eulogy on Congress by the Whigs 377 
Denunciation of Congress by the 

Tories 373 

Judgment on it of History ... 379 
Praise awarded to its Papers . . 380 
Its Pledge to Massachusetts re- 
flected Public Opinion .... 381 
As embodied in Letters accompany- 
ing Donations for the Poor of 

Boston 381 

Extracts from Letters from 

New Hampshire 382 

Connecticut 383 

Rhode Island 385 

New York 386 

New Jersey 386 

Pennsylvania 387 

Delaware 387 

Maryland .387 

Virginia 388 

North Carolina 389 

South Carolina 390 

Georgia 390 

Characteristics of this Record . . 391 
Massachusetts conforms to the Ad- 
vice of Congress 391 

Military Preparation in Massachu- 
setts 392 

Appeal of its Provincial Congress 

in behalf of Order 393 

Military Preparation in other Colo- 

Letter of Charles Lee 394 

Ratification and Execution of the 

Association 395 

Unity of Sentiment 395 

Union attains the Strength of Law 397 

Importance of this Result ... 398 
View of Union by Galloway and 

Henry 399 

Just Estimate of Union by the 

Popular Leaders 400 

Prophecies concerning America . 401 

An American urges Independence 401 







From Association to Revolution . 403 
Population of the United Colonies 403 
The Legal Relations of the People 404 
Development in Thirteen Commu- 
nities 405 

In the Relation of Union .... 405 
And growing into Independent 

States in Union 406 

Their Plea to the Sovereign . . . 406 
George III. and America . . . 407 
His Speech to Parliament . . . 408 
His Reception of the Petition of 

Congress 408 

The Privy Council decide to issue 
a Proclamation declaring a Re- 
bellion 409 

The Petition in Parliament ... 409 
Declaration of both Houses . . . 410 
The Coercive Measures popular . 410 
Lord North proposes a Plan of Con- 
ciliation . 411 

His Ultimatum addressed to Frank- 
lin 412 

Remarkable Words sent by Frank- 
lin to Lord North 413 

The Popular Party on receiving 

the Warlike News 413 

Hostilities at Lexington and Con- 
cord 414 

Their Effect in the Colonies ... 415 
Reception of Lord North's Plan . 417 
Answer of the Assembly of Penn- 
sylvania 417 

Of New Jersey 418 

Of Virginia 418 

All the Assemblies defer to Con- 
gress Questions of War and Peace 419 
The Congress of 1775 .... 419 
Applications from Massachusetts, 
New York, New Hampshire, and 
Mecklenburg County, N. C. . 422 
The alleged Mecklenburg Declara- 
tion of Independence .... 422 

The Applications force on Congress 

the Issue of Sovereignty . . . 424 
American Solution of the Question 

of Sovereignty 424 

Public Mind not ripe for Inde- 
pendence 427 

Congress decline to deal with the 
Point of Sovereignty .... 428 
Assume the Army before Bos- 
ton 429 

Washington chosen Commander- 
in-chief 429 

Thomas Jefferson enters Congress . 431 
Congress aim at a Redress of Griev- 
ances 432 

Its Papers 432 

Franklin submits a Plan of Con- 
federation 433 

Congress answer Lord North's 

Plan 434 

Second Petition to the King . . 435 
Work of Congress to the Adjourn- 
ment in August 437 

Examination of the Charge of 

Hypocrisy 437 

Situation of the Colonies . . . 439 
Submission of Massachusetts to the 

Advice of Congress 440 

Congress re-assemble 441 

Thirteen Colonies represented . . 441 
State of Public Opinion .... 442 
Congress hesitate to advise the 

Formation of Local Governments 443 
The Second Petition in England . 444 
The King's Proclamation declaring 

a Rebellion in the Colonies . . 445 
No Answer given to the Second 

Petition 446 

Effect of the Intelligence in Congress 447 
It advises New Hampshire and 
South Carolina to form Govern- 
ments 448 

Samuel Adams on this Action . . 449 




Popular Leaders of Insight accept 

the Work of Revolution . . . 450 
Altered Tone of Congress ... 450 
Effect of the Proclamation on the 
People 451 


Independence urged . . . . . 452 

The Sentiment of Nationality . . 452 

Idea of founding a Republic . . 453 

Magnitude of the Work .... 454 




The United Colonies from Revolu- 
tion to National Power . . . 456 

Firmness of the King and the Par- 
liament 456 

Appointment of Lord George Ger- 
main 457 

Resolution of the Colonies in de- 
manding a Redress of Grievances 457 

The Popular Party a Unit in Armed 
Resistance 459 

And in regarding Congress as the 
Head of the Union 459 

The Scene of War from November 
to July 460 

Popular Leaders of Clear Vision 
urge the Step of Independence . 460 

And that the United Colonies 
should become a Nation and a 
Republic 461 

Until the Sentiment of Nationality 
became the Passion of the Party 461 

Growth of Public Opinion ... 463 

The Popular Party divided on the 
Question of Independence . . 463 

Also on the Question of forming 
Governments 464 

Samuel Adams and Independence 464 

John Dickinson and Independence 465 

He arrays the Middle Colonies by 
Instructions against Independ- 
ence 465 

Declarations of New York, North 
Carolina, and Portsmouth against 
Independence 466 

Idea general that the Party were 
only opposing an Administration 467 

Growth of Opinion for Independ- 
ence steady 467 

The Question on the Opening of 

1776 468 

Labors of Samuel Adams for Inde- 
pendence 469 

Popular Leaders earliest identified 

with the Movement 469 

Benjamin Rush and Thomas Paine 471 

Publication of " Common Sense " 472 

Account of this Pamphlet ... 472 

Its Popularity 476 

General Agitation of the Question 477 
Formation of Parties on it . . . 478 
The Whigs aim to form One Nation 479 
Nationality and Republicanism cor- 
relative in Development . . . 483 
Parties in Congress on Independ- 
ence 483 

Action tending to Independence 

In widening the Union . . . 485 
In disarming the Tories . . 485 
In the Equipment of Privateers 486 
In opening the Ports . . . 486 
In dealing with Foreign Pow- 
ers 487 

In the Proclamation for a Fast 489 

Franklin and Samuel Adams . . 489 
The Recommendation to form Local 
Governments on the Power of 

the People 491 

Advice of Congress followed by 

Massachusetts 491 

By New Hampshire .... 492 
By South Carolina .... 493 
Character of this Action .... 495 
Welcomed by the Patriots . . . 495 
Motion by John Adams to advise 
all the Colonies to form Govern- 
ments . 496 




Debates on this Motion .... 496 
Resolution of May Fifteenth . . 498 
Becomes the Platform of the Popu- 
lar Part}- 498 

Popular Movement to promote In- 
dependence 499 

Proposal to collect the Sense of 

the People on Independence . . 499 
Commended bj Members of Con- 
gress 500 

Independence in North Carolina: 
Effect of the Battle of Moore's 

Creek Bridge 502 

Meeting of the Provincial Con- 
gress 503 

Power given to Vote for Inde- 
pendence . 503 

Independence in Rhode Island : 

Request of Hopkins .... 504 
Power given to Vote for Inde- 
pendence 505 

Act relating to Civil Processes 505 
Independence in Massachusetts : 
Feeling represented by Haw- 

ley 505 

Act relating to Civil Processes 506 
Resolution on Independence . 506 
Votes of the Towns .... 507 
Independence in Virginia: 

State of Public Opinion . . 509 
Character of the Convention . 510 
Instructions to propose Inde- 
pendence in Congress . . 511 
Received with Enthusiasm . 511 
Four Colonies on the Fifteenth of 

May on Independence .... 512 
" The whole United Colonies upon 

tie Verge of Revolution " . . 513 
Motion submitted on the Seventh 
of. June in Congress on Inde- 
pendence 513 

Debate on this Motion .... 515 
Postponed for Three Weeks ... 516 
Committee to prepare a Declara- 
tion 517 

Spectacle of Imminent Peril and 

High-toned Politics 517 

Independence in Pennsylvania: 

Strength of the Opposition . 519 
Activity of the Popular Party 519 
Resolution of May Fifteenth . 520 
Great Public Meeting ... 521 


Declare the Union paramount 521 
Conference of Committees . 521 
Authorize Independence . . 522 
Independence in Delaware : 
Assembly adverse to Revolu- 
tion 523 

Resolution of May Fifteenth . 523 
Independence Authorized . . 523 
Independence in New Jersey : 

The General Assembly . . . 524 
The Provincial Congress . . 524 
The Governor violates the 

Resolution of May Fifteenth 525 
His imprisonment .... 525 
Independence authorized . . 525 
Independence in Maryland : 
Instructions against a Separa- 
tion reiterated 526 

Popular Party adopt the Reso- 
lution of May Fifteenth . . 526 
County Instructions .... 526 
Independence authorized . . 527 
Independence in Georgia : 

Opposition Powerful .... 528 
Action of the Provincial Con- 
gress 528 

Independence in South Carolina: 
Opposed by Large Numbers . 528 
Authorized by the Govern- 
ment 528 

Independence in New York : 

Strength of the Opposition . 529 
The Provincial Congress . . 529 
Its Action on the Resolution of 

May Fifteenth 529 

Its Declination to authorize In- 
dependence 529 

Independence in Connecticut: 

Act passed on Civil Processes 529 
Reply to Virginia. . . *. . 530 
Independence authorized . . 530 
Independence authorized in New 

Hampshire 530 

Twelve Colonies designated Con- 
gress to declare Independence . 530 
Union and Local Self-government 

recognized in this Political action 531 
Embodiment of Public Opinion . 531 
The Committee report the Draft of a 

Declaration 532 

Congress on the First of July . . 532 
Debate on Independence .... 533 




Speech of John Adams .... 534 

Of John Dickinson .... 535 
Vote in Committee of the Whole on 

the Resolution for Independence 537 
Congress on the Second of July . 538 
Kesolution on Independence ad- 
opted 538 

Debate on the Draft of the Decla- 
ration 539 

Declaration of Independence . . 539 

Authenticated and circulated . . 544 

Adopted by New York .... 544 

Signature of the Declaration . . 544 

Service of the Members .... 546 

John Adams 547 

Thomas Jeiferson 547 

Welcome by the People of the Dec- 
laration 548 


Pledges of the Asssemblies to main- 
tain it . 551 

Received with Enthusiasm by the 

Army 552 

Independence a Joint Act . . . 553 
Contemporary Estimate of the 

Greatness of the Step .... 554 
The Declaration of Independence 

the Organic Law of Union . . 555 
And the Embodiment of the Senti- 
ment of Nationality .... 556 
It announced the Fact of the Exist- 
ence of the United States as a 

Nation 557 

And the Theory of its Government 558 
Its Beneficial Effect on the Amer- 
ican Cause 558 



1776 TO 1790. 

From Nationality to Republican 

Government 561 

Sovereignty passed from the Crown 
to the People as formed into 

States 562 

Conviction of the Necessity of Am- 
erican Law 562 

The Governments of Six States . 563 
Formation of Government in New 

Jersey 564 

Delaware 564 

Maryland 564 

Pennsylvania 565 

NortlTcarolina 566 

Georgia 566 

New York 566 

The Constitutions provide only for 

^Domestic Affairs 567 

Eclat of the New Governments . 568 

John Adams on their Effect abroad 568 
Formation of a Government for the 

United States 569 

Preparation of Articles of Confed- 
eration 569 

Discussion on them in Congress . _569 

Their Adoption and Transmission 

to the Legislatures 570 

Letter of Congress 571 

Ratification by Nine Legislatures . 571 
Appeal of Congress to complete the 

Confederation 572 

Period of Political Languor . . . 572 
The Failure to ratify the Articles 

injurious to the Cause .... 573 

Question of Western Lands . . . 574 

Action of Virginia 575 

Final Ratification of the Articles . 575 
Their Recognition of Union and 

Local Self-government . . . 576 
Official Announcement that the 

Confederation was the Law . . 577 
Flag of the United States ... 578 
Defects of the Confederation . . 578 
Salutary Effects of the Establish- 
ment of Government .... 578 
Robert R. Livingston on settling 

Disputes between States . . . 578 
The Confederation regarded a Step 

towards a Better System ... 579 

Proclamation of Peace .... 580 




Resignation by Washington of his 
Commission 581 

Public Sentiment on the Peace . 582 

Inadequacj" of the Confederation to 
protect American Rights . . . 584 

The Fact lamented by Patriotic 
Americans 584 

Alexander Hamilton 584 

James Madison 585 

Washington's Statement of the 
National Want 586 

Method of a Convention to mature 
a System Historical .... 586 

Proposed by Virginia under the 
lead of Madison 587 

The Annapolis Convention . . . 587 

Its recommendation of a Conven- 
tion to meet in Philadelphia . . 587 

Usurpation by Local Officials of Na 
tional Functions 587 

This Lawless Spirit breaks out in 
Shays's Rebellion 588 

The Virginia Legislature adopts 
the Recommendation of a Con- 
vention 589 

Congress recommend the Legis- 
latures to appoint Delegates . . 589 

Delegates meet in Independence 
Hall 589 

Character of the Convention . . 590 

Records of its Four Months of 
Lubor 590 

Plans submitted for a National 
Government 591 

The Determination to frame a New 
System 592 


Franklin's Speech on Compromise 592 
Question of the Spheres of Power 

of the Local and the General . 593 
The Convention agree on the Basis 

of a Constitution 593 

Franklin on the Constitution . . 594 

Washington on Representation . 595 

The Signing of the Constitution . 595 

Letter of the Convention . . . 597 
The Constitution referred to the 

People 597 

The General Welcome .... 598 
Formation of Parties on the Ques- 
tion of its Adoption .... 599 
The Constitution ordained and 

established 599 

This an Act of the Sovereign Power 600 
Recognition and Guarantee 

Of the State 601 

Of the Union 601 

Establishment of the Government 603 

Inaugural Address of Washington 603 
Welcome by the Liberal World of 

a Republican Government . . frOo 

Foundations of its Success . . . 606 

Spectacle of Stability and Progress 607 
Tribute to its Operation for Seventy 

Years 607 

The Ordeal of the Civil War . . 608 

Verdict of the Struggle .... 608 
Process of the Multiplication of 

States 608 

Prophecy of Nathaniel Ames . . 609 
Injunction of the Founders of the 

Republic to cherish the Union . 610 








I PURPOSE in these pages to sketch the political history of 
the Rise of the Republic of the United States. I shall 
endeavor to frame a narrative of events, with their causes 
and relations, which derive interest and importance from 
their connection with the formation and direction of public 
opinion, the development of fundamental principles, and the 
embodiment of these principles into institutions and laws. 
I shall aim to show how the European emigrant, imbued 
with the spirit of a new civilization, organized self-governing 
communities, and to follow the stages of their growth into a 
Union. I shall then trace the origin and rise of a senti- 
ment of nationality, and the effort by which it became em- 
bodied in the Declaration of Independence, which was the 
first covenant of our country ; and in the Federal Constitu- 
tion, which is the supreme law of the land. 

The thirteen colonies, destined to become the United 
States, were planted on that portion of the territory of 
North America which lies between the Alleghany Mountains 
and the Atlantic coast. This region, of a mean breadth of 



about one hundred miles, and nine hundred miles in length, 
is characterized as a long ridge of rock and sand, presenting 
obstacles, rather than offering temptations, to the husband- 
man. It had, however, no wastes like the deserts of Africa, 
and no impassable barriers between the north and the 
south, while parts of it were enriched by nature with the 
almost luxurious fruitfulness of the torrid zone. Its coasts 
were admirably adapted to foster the growth of a commer- 
cial marine ; and its long, wide, and deep rivers invited 
intercommunication. To the rear of this region was the 
valley of the Mississippi, u the most magnificent dwelling- 
place prepared by God for man's abode." l The whole con- 
tinent seemed to be fashioned by Providence for the uses 
of a great nation. 2 

At the period of the formation of the Republic, pioneers 
had penetrated the forests beyond the Atlantic slope, and had 
commenced settlements on the banks of the Ohio and the 
Mississippi Rivers ; but the growth of population and wealth 
in the vast valley between the Alleghanies and the Rocky 
Mountains, and the extension of the national domain on- 
ward to the Pacific Ocean, have taken place mainly in the 
nineteenth century. 3 The original limits of the United 
States embraced an area of about eight hundred thousand 
square miles. Additions of territory extended the bounda- 

1 De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, i. 22. Bowen's edition. 

2 De Tocqueville, in chap. i. of his " Democracy in America," in dwelling on the 
physical characteristics of the continent, says, p. 24, that North America seemed 
created to be the domain of intelligence. It is urged in No. 2 of the "Federalist" 
(1787), that the one, connected, fertile, wide- spreading country indicated the design 
of Providence that it should be under one political sovereignty. The thought was 
common in the newspapers from 1765 to 1775. Franklin (Sparks's Works of 
Franklin, vii. 334) wrote, in 1766, to Lord Kames, " America, an immense territory, 
favored by nature with all advantages of climate, soils, great navigable rivers and 
lakes, &c., must become a great country, populous and mighty." 

3 Gallagher (Address before the Ohio Hist Soc., cited by Webster, Works, ii. 
607) states, that, prior to the year 1800, eight or ten keel-boats, of about twenty-five 
tons each, performed all the carrying trade between Cincinnati and Pittsburg. 
The first Government vessel appeared on Lake Erie in 1802; the first steamboat 
was launched at Pittsburg in 1811 ; the first on Lake Michigan in 1826 ; and the first 
appeared at Chicago in 1832. 


ries, until, on the east with an Atlantic front looking on 
Europe, and on the west with a Pacific coast stretching 
towards Asia, they have become as broad as the continent, 
and hence have reached the ideal of the men of the Revolu- 
tionary age ; but they are yet bounded on the north by the 
British Possessions, and on the south by Mexico and the 
Gulf which bears its name. They now embrace an area of 
three million four hundred and sixty-six thousand square 
miles. 1 The population has increased from about two mil- 
lions and a half, at the period of the Revolution, to thirty- 
nine millions ; and, although society everywhere presented 
on its surface the aspect of development into the form of dis- 
tinct communities or colonies, and independent States, in 
which the people of each were units, yet beneath this diver- 
sity are ever found affinities of race, language, religion, 
and, more than all, of political ideas and institutions, and 
common memories, which form the groundwork of a power- 
ful nationality. 2 This element of Union has met trium- 
phantly every trial. Its greatest crisis by far was the late 
appeal in the only .tribunal having full jurisdiction between 

1 The area of the United States was estimated in 1783 at 820,680 square miles; 
in 1854, at 2,936,166; in 1868, at about 3,466,000. The following are the statistics 
of the area : 

Square Mllea 

Original limits of the Thirteen States 820,680 

Louisiana, purchased of France, in 1803, for $15,000,000 899,579 

Florida, purchased of Spain, in 1809, for S3.000.000 66,900 

Territory confirmed by the Oregon Treaty in 1842 and 1846 308,052 

Texas, annexed in 1846 (Texas debt), $7,500,000 318.000 

New Mexico and California in 1847 (cost of the war), $15,000,000 522,955 

Arizona, purchased of Mexico, in 1854, for $10.000,000 30,000 

Alaska, purchased of Russia, in 1867, for $7,200,000 500,000 


The statistics of the area, with the exception of those of Arizona and Alaska, are 
taken from the Compendium of the Census of 1850. Gibbon, distrusting the author- 
ity he cites (vol. i. 164), gives the area of the Roman Empire at 1,600,000 square 

2 Mill (Considerations on Representative Government, p. 308), in remarking on 
the causes of a feeling of nationality, says, " The strongest of all is identity of 
political antecedents, the possession of a national history, and consequent community 
of recollections. 


nations and fragments of nations, the ultima ratio regum, 
the tribunal of force. The judgment then rendered, 1 after 
a field of war unparalleled in the annals of domestic strife, 
is, that these States and communities are associated in a 
bond of union that is indissoluble ; that the supreme law 
of the land ordained in the Constitution is paramount ; that 
the Government, acting under this law, has the right and 
power to vindicate its authority by force ; and that itself is 
the judge of the nature and extent of its own powers. 
This nation has in its keeping " the last word in human 
political institutions," the Republican form of Govern- 
ment. 2 

The vast region which the flag of the United States pro- 
tects was, two centuries and a half ago, the roaming ground 
of tribes of Indians. They presented everywhere the copper- 
colored complexion and common traits of character. They 
were cold, stoical, and melancholy; mild and hospitable 
when at peace, ferocious and treacherous when at war ; chil- 
dren of the forest, living in the hunter stage of civilization. 
They transmit no story of the play of their feelings in the 
quiet of domestic life, or in the passion and the storm of 
war. They were peoples without annals. They had man- 
ners rather than laws. 3 They exhibited, from one extremity 
to the other of the territory now the United States, the 
same melancholy spectacle of the absence of culture, prog- 
ress, and aspiration. Neither the minute nor the grand 
in nature incited them to study her laws or to employ her 

1 Letter of Hon. Isaac F. Redfield, Sept. 30, 1865. 

2 Draper, in remarking on the late civil war (Civil Policy in America, p. 85), 
says, " The history of the world cannot furnish a more splendid example of un- 
wavering fortitude, unshrinking self-sacrifice, in vindication of national life; " and 
(p. 239) American history illustrates the political force of the idea, " that there shall 
exist on this continent one Republic, great and indivisible." In the volume of 
Essays, entitled " International Policy" (London, 1866), it is said, p. 41, "Republi- 
can government, with all its noble associations and inherent advantages, is, as we 
believe, the last word in human political institutions. Without any need for impa- 
tience, Europe is moving towards it." 

8 Montesquieu, book xviii. chap. 13. 


forces. The implements they used were made of bones and 
stone instead of iron and steel. Neither the exuberance of 
the soil, nor the magnificence of the ' rivers, nor the influ- 
ence of climate, nor the geographical conditions that stimu- 
late commerce, roused in them the capacity to develop the 
resources of this splendid country ; and it is a just inference, 
that their successive generations passed away with hardly 
more heed to any divine command to subdue and replenish 
the earth than is evinced in the falling of the autumnal 
leaves. The wonderful riches of the land which they pom- 
pously called their own were an untouched treasury. It 
was virtually a waste, awaiting, in the order of Providence, 
the magic influence of an incoming race, imbued with the 
spirit of a new civilization. 1 

The period referred to was an epoch in which there had 
been a providential preparation for great events in the Old 
World. It was an era of wonderful discovery in the heavens 
and the earth. 2 It was also the period of the Reformation. 
This, in its essence, was the assertion of the principle of 
individuality, or of true spiritual freedom ; 3 and in the 
beginning, not by Protestants alone, of whom Luther was 
the great exponent, but by Catholics also, represented in the 
polished and profound Reuchlin. 4 Though first occupied 
with subjects not connected with political speculation, yet 
it was natural and inevitable, that inquiry should widen out 
from the realm of the Church into that of the State. Then 

1 Guyot (Earth and Man, p. 217) says of the Indian, that the exuberance of the 
soil has never been of value to him, and that he never ascended to the rank of the 
pastoral man. De Tocqueville (Democracy in America, i. 29) states of the coun- 
try, " It may be justly said, at the time of its discovery by Europeans, to have 
formed one great desert. The Indians occupied without possessing it." 

2 Humboldt (Cosmos, vol. ii. 681) says, "The period of the greatest discov- 
eries in space over the surface of our planet was immediately succeeded by the 
revelations of the telescope, through which man may be said to have taken posses- 
sion of a considerable portion of the heavens." 

8 Bryce, Holy Roman Empire, 359. 

4 Frederick Schlegel (Lectures on Modern History, 162) considers Reuchlin as 
the profoundest philosopher of his age, and one of the originators of the Reforma- 



a fresh impetus was given to that transformation of society, 
which began when Christianity the basis of the good, per- 
manent, and progressive in modern civilization first ap- 
peared in the world. At that time, social order rested on 
the assumed natural inequality of men. The individual 
was regarded as of value only as he formed a part of the 
political fabric, and was able to contribute to its uses, as 
though it were the end of his being to aggrandize the State. 1 
This was the pagan idea of man. The wisest philosophers 
of antiquity could not rise above it. Its influence imbued 
the pagan world. The State regarded as of paramount im- 
portance, not the man, but the citizen whose physical and 
intellectual forces it absorbed. If this tended to foster 
lofty civic virtues and splendid individual culture in the 
classes whom the State selected as the recipients of its 
favors, it bore hard on those whom the State virtually 
ignored, on laboring men, mechanics, the poor, captives 
in war, slaves, and woman. This low view of man was 
exerting its full influence when Rome was at the height 
of its power and glory. Christianity then appeared with its 
central doctrine, that man was created in the Divine image, 
and destined for immortality ; pronouncing, that, in the 
eye of God, all men are equal. This asserted for the indi- 
vidual an independent value. It occasioned the great in- 
ference, that man is superior to the State, which ought to 
be fashioned for his use. This was the advent of a new 
spirit and a new power in the world. The struggle between 
the pagan and Christian elements was severe. In four cen- 
turies, civil society was transformed from the pagan basis to 
that of Christianity. 2 But, long after Rome had crumbled, 

1 Draper (Intellectual Development in Europe, 198) remarks, that " Rome never 
considered man as an individual, but only as a thing." He says (117), : ' Plato 
insists, that men are to be considered, not as men, but as elements of the State, 
a perfect subject, differing from a slave only in this, that he has the State for his 

2 Essai Historique sur la Socie'te' Civile dans le Monde Romain et sur sa 
Transformation par le Christianisme, par C. Schmidt. Strasbourg, 1853. The 


the influence of Paganism, under various forms, continued 
to operate ; and especially the idea, that man was made for 
the State, the office of which, or of a divine right vested 
in one, or in a privileged few, was to fashion the thought 
and control the action of the many. Its embodiment in 
arbitrary power, both in ecclesiastical and political affairs, 
continued to oppress and benumb the human intellect, until 
the Reformation roused a spirit of activity in the bosom 
of the Church. 

The new life thus started in the domain of religion soon 
communicated itself to other provinces: The new powers 
then called into exercise reached forth to other and wider 
fields. The horizon was expanded in every direction ; 
and, as inquiry extended, whatever bore on civil society, 
its constitution and improvement, became the subject of 
universal attention. 1 There then rose, above the low level 
of a corrupt political world, a class of thinkers who grasped 
the idea that the State ought to exist for man ; that justice, 
protection, and the common good, ought to be the aim 
of government. George Buchanan, of Scotland, of noble 
personal character, renowned for profound learning, and of 
large capacity for affairs of state, in his " De Jure Regni," 
held that kings derived their power from the people, who 
had an inherent right to reclaim the power which they dele- 

statements in this paragraph relating to Paganism and Christianity are made on 
this authority. This work is divided into three parts or books. Book i. is entitled 
" La Sock'te Civile Paienne." Its presents an elaborate view of the morale of ancient 
society, in which social order rested on the assumed natural inequality of man. and 
his subserviency to the State; and the effects of this pagan idea of man are traced 
on the family, the laboring classes, the poor, the unfortunate, presenting a picture 
of the terrible social condition of the pagan world. Book ii. is entitled " La Socie'te' 
Religieuse Chretienne," which states the fundamental doctrine of Christianity, and 
the effect of the application of the Christian spirit of love on the various relations of 
life, or on the classes described under the influence of the pagan spirit. Book iii. is 
entitled " Transformation de la Socie'te Civile par {'Influence de 1'Esprit Chretien." 
It describes the nature of the struggles, during the first four centuries of the Christian 
era, between the Christian and the pagan ideas; showing how the ancient maxims 
and Roman laws were transformed, and society imbued with the spirit of the new 
religion. The work is entirely historical. 

1 Heeren's Political Consequences of the Reformation, 283. 


gated ; and he enforced the principles of liberty and the 
maxims of a free government with an energy and fidelity 
which had been equalled in no former age. 1 In France, 
Hubert Lanquet, of kindred spirit and public virtue, touched 
by the injustice of arbitrary power, put forth a noble vindi- 
cation of the right of the people to be free from the practices 
of tyranny. Others in France issued, at this period, pro- 
ductions in a similar spirit. 2 But the time had not ripened 
for a reception of their doctrines. Half a century had 
hardly passed, before champions of this school illumine the 
political horizon of England. Among them were John Mil- 
ton, imbued with the very spirit of the Reformation, who de- 
fended the noble thesis, that freedom is the native right of 
man, and gave the world a mighty and still unsurpassed plea 
for liberty of utterance ; John Locke, who urged that this 
idea ought to be embodied into the framework of society for 

1 The " De Jure Regni " was first printed in 1579, when, Bayle says (Article Bu- 
chanan), it made a great noise. The article contains curious matter about it. In 
Hollis's "Memoirs " (549) are enumerated the editions. They were many. In 1584, 
the Scotch Parliament condemned and prohibited it. Clarendon, on the Restoration 
of Charles II , ordered all copies to be seized as pernicious to monarchy (Camp- 
bell's Lord Chancellors, iv. 133). Sir James Mackintosh (Work?, 609) warmly 
eulogizes the " De Jure Regni " in the words cited in the text. The Earl of Chat- 
ham (Correspondence, iv. 286) regarded it as a volume small in bulk, but big in 
matter, containing " even all the length and breadth and depth and height of that 
great argument, which the first geniuses and master-spirits of the human race have 
asserted so nobly. From him, ceu fonte perenni, they have all drunk, and happiest 
who has drunk the deepest." 

2 Bayle has an elaborate dissertation on the authorship of that work, which he 
states was printed in Latin in 1579, and ascribed to " Stephanus Junius Brutus." 
In Hollis's " Memoirs " (129) there is additional matter about it. The author seems 
not to have seen the edition translated into French. This is in the Boston Public 
Library. Its title is as follows: " De la Pvissance Legitime dv Prince svr le Pevple, 
et du peuple sur le Prince. Traitd tres-vtile & digne de lecture en ce temps, escrit en 
Latin par Estiene lunius Brutus, & nouuellement traduit en Francois. M.D.LXXXI." 
It was, in the next century, translated into English from " the Latin and French." 
Hollis had a head of Lanquet engraved, which is one of the plates in his Memoirs. 
The other works referred to in the text were the " Franco-Gallia : or an account of 
the ancient free state of France and most other parts of Europe, before the Loss of 
their Liberties," as the title reads in an English edition. It was originally written 
in Latin, and printed in 1574 ; and " Le Contr'un, ou Discours de la Servitude 
Voluntaire," by Stephen de la Boetie, printed in 1578. It is pervaded by a noble 
patriotism; and Hallam (Literature, i. 307) says, "La Boetie, in fact, is almost 
a single instance of a thoroughly republican character till nearly the revolution." 


the common good ; and Algernon Sidney, the honest repub- 
lican, who foreshadowed the institutional form in which this 
idea was destined to develop. Locke was so successful in 
catching and expressing the liberal spirit of his age, in his 
work on Civil Government, that it became the platform of a 
great political party, and gradually widened out into an 
influence that operated far beyond the thought or the theory 
of its adherents ; so that, Hallam says, " while silently 
spreading its fibres from its roots over Europe and America, 
it prepared the way for theories of society hardly bolder in 
their announcement, but expressed with more passionate 
ardor, from which the last and present age have sprung." 1 
This historical judgment is applicable to a line of illustrious 
characters, who grasped the Christian idea of man ; and, 
because of the brilliancy of their service in behalf of 
human rights, they deserve a place among the morning 
stars of the American constellation. 

This was the nature of the providential preparation that 
was made in the Old World for the great work of occupying 
North America. When new political ideas were stirring 
the public mind, and a band of popular leaders, consciously 
or unconsciously, were developing, in perilous political action 
in England, the republican element, several powers made 
grants of territory to companies and individuals who had 
in view the object of planting colonies. After the New 
World had been made known by Columbus and his suc- 
cessors, it was agreed by the principal nations, that prior 
discovery by any of them should constitute valid claim to 
territory in it ; and that grants from them should con- 
stitute absolute title to the soil, subject, however, to the 
Indian right of occupancy. It became also a rule of law, 
that the crown only had the right to extinguish this claim. 
Hence the validity of land-titles, traced back to grants by the 

1 Hallam's Literature, ii. 362. The work of Locke was several times reprinted 
in the Colonies ; and the citations from it in political utterances show that it was 
carefully studied by Americans. 


crown, has never been denied in the courts. Under these 
grants, the soil began to be occupied by the settlers. 1 

The migrations that heretofore had changed the face of 
society had been tribal in their character : but the migra- 
tion to the New World was individual ; and, with the single 
exception of the case of Georgia, was effected without any 
expense to the government, and sometimes even in defiance 
of its wishes and decrees. In this way, a few Lowland 
Scotch settled in several places ; the persecuted Hugue- 
nots of France became, in small numbers, exiles in Massa- 
chusetts, and in greater numbers in South Carolina; the 
Swedes occupied the banks of the Delaware, and the Dutch 
founded New Netherland. A great majority of the emi- 
grants were of the Teutonic stock, famed for valor, 
personal independence, and a love of free institutions, 
and who welcomed the principle of individuality, roused 
into activity by the Reformation. They are characterized as 
the Germanic race ; a term sufficiently comprehensive to 
embrace the settlers of Saxon, English, and Norman blood, 
and to denote the ancestry of that cosmopolitan resiilt, the 
American race, who are making a broad and deep mark on 
the face of the civilized world. 2 

The colonists, as they bravely encountered the hardships 
of subduing a wilderness, were impelled by various motives, 

1 Chalmers (Political Annals, 677) says, that "the laws of nations sternly dis- 
regarded the possession of the aborigines, because they h:id not been admitted to 
the society of nations." At the Declaration of Independence (2 Dallas's Reports, 
470), every acre of land in this country was held, mediately or immediately, by 
grants from the crown. All our institutions (Wheaton, viii. 588) recognize the abso- 
lute title of the crown, subject only to the Indian right of occupancy, and recog- 
nize the absolute title of the crown to extinguish that right. An Indian conveyance 
alone could give no title to an individual. 

2 " The elements of the population of the original thirteen States were almost 
exclusively of English, Lowland Scotch, Dutch, and Swedish blood; that is to say, 
decidedly Germanic. Ireland was, as yet, slightly represented. France had made 
but inconsiderable contributions to the population." Hotz's Gobineau, 241. Lap- 
penberg (England under the Anglo-Saxon Kings, ii. 305), says, that in England, 
before the Conquest, all the then existing nationalities of Europe, the Slavonic 
excepted, met together. The Germanic alone was not remodelled by Roman influ- 
ences, and nowhere has so nobly maintained itself. 


the emigrants to New England, under the main impulse 
of a spirit of religion, by a desire to enjoy in peace their 
mode of worship, and to spread the gospel ; the emigrants to 
Virginia and New York, chiefly under the influence of a 
spirit of commerce, by a love of adventure, or the hope of 
opening new paths of trade ; and the founders of Maryland, 
Pennsylvania, and Georgia, by the ambition to form new 
States ; while all the colonists desired to benefit their condi- 
tion. The majority were zealous sectarians in theology ; 
and, in the spirit of their age, were often narrow in their 
views, and often intolerant in their action : but, whether 
Puritans, as in New England, or Episcopalians, as in Vir- 
ginia, or Catholics, as in Maryland, or Quakers, as in Penn- 
sylvania, they, in political things, manifested a common 
love of liberty ; and they spontaneously obeyed the same 
historic traditions and instinctive tendencies, as they organ- 
ized into bodies politic. They ignored the old political 
forms of the places in which they were born, and applied 
free principles in a way and to an extent unlike any thing 
seen in the ancient time or in their own age. Each com- 
munity adopted the rule that the majority should govern, 
representation, the elective franchise, the municipality, the 
public meeting, the general assembly, trial by jury and the 
habeas corpus, in a word, self-government in the local 
spheres. Thus, in about a century and a quarter (1607 to 
1732), there were planted on this soil the language, man- 
ners, ideas, and religion, the institutions and their tenden- 
cies, that characterize the nation. 

The polity of the United States is original and peculiar. 
It is obviously made up of two great elements or divisions 
of power, that of the States and of the nation ; and the 
beginnings of these are as obviously found in the colonies 
and their union. The motto on the seal of the United 
States gives the genealogy, E PLUBIBUS UNUM. 1 The cir- 

1 The motto " E Pluribus Unum " was on the titlepage of the first volume of 
" The Gentleman's Magazine," 1731, and was continued until 1834. 


cumstances connected with the origin of each one of the 
many satisfactorily explain why there were colonies and 
now are States, unequal in size, population, wealth, and 
political weight. Thus a company of Englishmen obtained, 
of the sovereignty a grant of the small tract of land which 
is now Rhode Island, and hence the colony and State ; a 
company of Hollanders founded New Netherland, and hence 
there is now a State of the distinctness of character, the 
commercial greatness and imperial power of New York ; 
while, in relation to certain vital things, both States are 
recognized as co-equals in the national polity. But, in the 
general progress and development of civilization, there is 
ever a providential ordering of events, superior to and the 
master of circumstances. This moves on through the work- 
ing of great ideas, or the hidden forces, which, joined with 
climate and soil, mould society and direct its tendencies. 
These ideas were fulfilling their mission when theories of 
vital consequence to the human race, pronounced in the Old 
World Utopian, were carried out in the New World, and 
their influence fixed society on a new basis. 1 Indications 
of their presence are seen at every step of progress. The 
preamble to an early American Bill of Rights runs, " The 
free fruition of such liberties, immunities, and privileges as 
humanity, civility, and Christianity call for, as due to every 
man, in his place and proportion, without impeachment or 
infringement, hath ever been, and ever will be, the tran- 
quillity and stability of churches and commonwealths ; and 
the denial or deprival thereof, the disturbance, if not the 
ruin of both." 2 Here is seen, in the early American law- 
makers, the influence of the Christian element. The legis- 
lation of several of the colonies, establishing a system of 

1 " In that land the great experiment was to be made by civilized man of the 
attempt to construct society on a new basis; and it was there, for the first time, that 
theories hitherto unknown, or deemed impracticable, were to exhibit a spectacle for 
which the world had not been prepared by the history of the past." DE TOCQUE- 
VILLE : Democracy in America, i. 30. 

2 Preamble to Massachusetts Liberties, 1641. 


public instruction for youth, shows the high aim of basing 
commonwealths on intelligence, or on the general education 
of the people. On viewing this class of facts, in connection 
with the results that have been attained, a philosophic in- 
quirer, penetrating beneath the incidental and transient 
elements of error and of wrong, which, in American history, 
as in other histories, are mingled with the progress of 
Truth and the Right, declares that the grand maxim on which 
civil and political society in the United States rests is, " that 
Providence has given to every human being the degree of 
reason necessary to direct himself in the affairs which in- 
terest him exclusively." l After the people had been trained 
for a century and a half in the exercise of these powers in 
purely local spheres, there rose at length, as the product of 
rare public virtue, and to supply the needs of the nation, 
the polity of a republican government based on the prin- 
ciple of the sovereignty of the people. 

To account for the general progress of civilization and 
development, or for the action of great ideas on society, in- 
volves a consideration of profound questions. I do not pur- 
pose to study the Why of the E Pluribus Unum ; but an 
order of facts that seem to show the How it came to pass, 
a class of events that mark the continuous blending of 
Diversity and Unity in the formation of the public opinion, 
that evolved The One from the many ; or, how the United 
States came to be the United States, free from the benumb- 
ing influences of centralization on the one hand, and from 
the fatal dangers of disintegration on the other. 

At every stage in the progress towards this result, the 
two main elements of the national life are found acting in 
harmony. It may be useful to preface the narrative by a 
glance at the origin and progress of the Idea of Local Self- 
Government, which developed into the State, and at the Idea 
of Union, which developed into the nation. 

1 De Tocqueville : Democracy in America, i. 538. 


1. Local Self-government. The self-government which 
developed and is recognized in the Republic is not simply 
a custom, in the units termed municipalities or States, of 
managing their local affairs ; but a degree of freedom in the 
individual to engage in the various pursuits of life, unrec- 
ognized elsewhere at the period when the Republic was 
formed, and yet unknown where centralization prevails, 1 
whether he chooses to act by himself or in association for 
civil or religious purposes ; and this self-government exists 
in union with the fulfilment of every obligation demanded 
by the nation. The theme in hand, however, requires 
references to institutions of a purely political nature. The 
idea of Local Self-government was historical at the time of 
the colonization of North America. Among the Germanic 
ancestors of the emigrants, the custom was so general 
for the inhabitants of a district to control their local affairs, 
that it has been said, " One leading principle pervaded the 
primeval polity of the Goths : where the law was adminis- 
tered, the law was made ; " 2 and they filled all Europe for 
five hundred years with the fame of their exploits, and 
were the first nation beyond the Danube to receive Chris- 
tianity. 3 In ancient England, local self-government is found 
in connection with the political and territorial divisions of 
tythings, hundreds, burghs, counties, and shires, in which 
the body of the inhabitants had a voice in managing their 
own affairs. Hence it was the germinal idea of the Anglo- 
Saxon polity. In the course of events, the crown deprived 
the body of the people of this power of local rule, and vested 

1 M. de Champagny (Dublin Review, April, 1866) says of France, "We were 
and are unable to go from Paris to Neuilly; or dine more than twenty together; or 
have in our portmanteau three copies of the same tract ; or lend a book to a friend ; 
or put a patch of mortar on our own house, if it stands in the street; or kill a par- 
tridge ; or plant a tree near the road-side ; or take coal out of our own land ; or 
teach three or four children to read, . . . without permission from the civil govern- 

2 Edinburgh Review, February, 1822. This article has much curious matter 
about municipalities. 

8 Encyclopaedia Americana, Article Goths. 


it in a small number of persons in each locality, who were 
called municipal councils, were clothed with the power of 
filling vacancies in their number, and were thus self-per- 
petuating bodies. In this way, the ancient freedom of the 
municipalities was undermined, and the power of the ruling 
classes was installed in its place. 1 Such was the nature 
of the local self-government in England, not merely during 
the period of the planting of her American colonies (1607 
to 1732), but for a century later; and it was the same in 
other countries. It was a noble form robbed of its life- 
giving spirit. 

It has been said by Guizot, that, " when there scarcely 
remained traces of popular assemblies, the remembrance of 
them, of the right of freemen to deliberate and transact 
their business together, resided in the minds of men as a 
primitive tradition, and a thing which might come about 
again." 2 These assemblies re-appeared, and old rights were 
again enjoyed, when the emigrants to the soil now the 
United States began to frame the laws under which they 
were to live. An instance of this occurred (1620) on board 
the " Mayflower," as she was bearing the Pilgrims from 
Southampton to Plymouth. Some of the passengers, termed 
strangers, said, .that, as their patent did not apply to New 

1 An article in the " Edinburgh Review," September, 1818, on the Burghs of 
Scotland, cites a statute of 1469, which stripped the burgesses everywhere of a fran- 
chise they had till then exercised, and formed the basis of the practice there by 
which the town-council and magistracy choose their own successors. J. Toum- 
lin Smith (Local Self-government, 107) says, "Henry VIII. began a systematic 
attack on the independence of borough institutions of local self-government, which 
his successors carefully followed up. This was done, by trying to get the controlling 
authority into the hands of small and select bodies in each borough." In Switzer- 
land (De Tocqueville, Democracy, ii. 448), "all powers of government were in 
the hands of small, close aristocracies perpetuating themselves." The ancient free 
municipal life of France had been extinguished. M. de Malesherbes, cited by 
De Tocqueville, ii. 428. Gervinus (Introduction to a History of the Nineteenth 
Century, 40) says of the Republic of the Netherlands, " that power fell into the 
hands of a narrow aristocracy, and that there was no thought of a representation of 
the citizens, of democratic institutions, or of the elective franchise for the commu- 

2 History of Civilization, iii. 199. 


England, there would be no authority to exercise powers of 
government ; and, when they got on shore, they would use 
their own liberty. To curb this riotous spirit, forty-one of 
the band, when at Cape Cod, signed the well-known cove- 
nant, by which they mutually and solemnly combined them- 
selves into a " civil body politic," for the better ordering 
and preservation of their object, and by virtue thereof to 
frame, enact, and obey such just and equal laws as from 
time to time should be thought most meet and convenient 
for the general good of the colony, in the expectation that 
this form of government might be as firm as any patent, and 
in some respects more sure. They declared that their en- 
terprise was undertaken for the glory of God, for the advance 
of the Christian faith, and for the honor of their king and 
country. 1 This was a covenant to provide a code of laws 
and a public authority, or a local government, not in the 
spirit of sovereignty, but of subordination to it, or as loyal 
subjects of the king. 2 

An old custom also re-appeared in all the colonies, in the 
provisions for a discharge of municipal duties. The begin- 
nings of the Massachusetts colony afford pertinent illustra- 
tions of the formative process. The company, as proprietors 
of the soil, granted to the several bands of settlers tracts of 
land to build towns upon, but at first made no special provi- 
sion for municipal governments. These persons met in one 
body, or in town-meeting, or in folk-mote, to lay out high- 
ways, to parcel out house-lots, and to order the petty details 
of local life ; but, as their numbers increased and duties 
multiplied, these frequent gatherings of the whole body 
became an onerous tax on their time, as " by reason of 
many men meeting, things were not easily brought unto a 
joint issue." 3 To remedy a growing evil, the inhabitants 

1 Bradford's History, edited by Deane, 89, 90. 

2 A different view of this proceeding has been given. Thus Benedict (Histori- 
cal Discourse, 10) says, " The Pilgrims took the form of a nation, and assumed 
and exercised its various functions," &c. 

3 History of Charlestown, 51. 


of Dorchester (1633) designated twelve of their number to 
meet once a week, to consider local matters, but they were 
to have no greater voice in determining a case than any 
inhabitants who might choose to meet with them. The plan, 
however, did not work well. 1 The inhabitants of Charlestown, 
in inaugurating another plan, selected the mode adopted in 
the " Mayflower." They signed an instrument, still ex- 
tant, which is entitled on their records, " An order for the 
government of the town by selectmen," by which eleven 
persons, " with the advice of pastor and teacher, in any case 
of conscience," were empowered to manage their local 
affairs for a year, the choice of officers excepted. 2 This 
plan proved successful. It was an application of the prin- 
ciple, that the body of the residents of a district should 
control its local affairs. 

Another instance of the re-appearance of an ancient 
right is afforded in the spontaneous application, by the 
emigrants, of the principle of representation, which was 
quite unknown in the Grecian and Roman world, was in 
England rather used by the ruling classes to wield power 
than enjoyed by the body of the people, and had well nigh 
disappeared on the European continent. This principle 
was first applied by the settlers of Virginia, who for several 
years had no voice in making the laws under which they 
lived, but were ruled under authority derived from the 
crown. Arbitrary power produced confusion and discon- 
tent. In 1619, the governor, to the great joy of the people, 
was empowered to summon representatives ; and each of 
the eleven incorporations and plantations chose two of their 
number to act as burgesses, and take part in making the 
laws. They convened in the church at James City, on the 
30th of July. The officers of the colony met with them, 

1 Vote of 1633 in Dorchester Records. 

2 History of Charlestown, 61. Professor Joel Parker, in a paper on New-Eng- 
land towns, in "Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings," 1866-7, regards the proceeding as 
showing the beginning of this form of municipal government. 



the governor sitting in his accustomed place, his council 
on each side, and in front of him the speaker and clerk, 
while the sergeant stood at the bar. The burgesses took 
their places " in the choir of the church." The minister 
then prayed that it might please God to guide and sanctify 
their proceedings to his own glory and the good of the 
plantation. The burgesses then retired to the body of the 
church ; when, " to the intent," the speaker says, " as we had 
begun with God Almighty, we might proceed with awful 
and due respect to his lieutenant, our most gracious and 
dread sovereign," all were called by name and in order, 
took the oath of supremacy, and then entered the assembly. 
Among its proceedings were measures towards the educa- 
tion of Indian children, and the erection of " a university or 
college." Thus solemn was the inauguration of the repre- 
sentative principle on this continent. 1 This was the origin 
of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, an example, Story 
says, of a domestic parliament to regulate all the internal 
concerns of the colony that " was never lost sight of, but 
was ever afterwards cherished throughout America as the 
dearest birthright of freemen." 2 All the colonies, sooner 
or later after their foundation, had their legislative assem- 
blies, which came to be called the commons of America. 
These assemblies were the judges of the elections and 
returns of their own members, regulated the manner of 
'transacting their own business, and claimed to be free 
deliberative bodies. In union with the co-ordinate branches 
of a council and a governor, they were the law-making 
power. 3 

1 Proceedings of the First Assembly of Virginia. 

2 Story's Commentaries, i. 26. 

Bancroft (i. 250) remarks, that "popular assemblies burst everywhere into life 
with a consciousness of their importance and an immediate capacity for efficient 
legislation." These assemblies, in some cases, at first were composed of the whole 
body of freemen. The dates of the formation of representative assemblies to make 
laws in the colonies are as follows : 

Virginia, July 30, 1619. The governor summoned two burgesses from three 
cities, three hundreds, three plantations, Argals gift, and Kiccowtan. Proceedings 


The representatives, with the governor and council, con- 
stituted the government for the colony, or of the people as 
a unit. This was held to be the only power that could levy 

in New-York Hist. Soc., Coll. 2d ser. Ill, communicated by Bancroft in 1856. The 
governor, council, and burgesses continued to meet together, Beverly says (Hist. 
Va. b. iv. 31), till 1680, when " Lord Colepepper, taking advantage of some disputes 
among them, procured the council to sit apart from the assembly; and so they be- 
came two distinct houses, in imitation of the two Houses of Parliament in England, 
the Lords and Commons, and so is the Constitution at this (1705) day." 

Massachusetts, May 19, 1634. To the surprise of the magistrates, twenty-five 
delegates, chosen by the freemen of the towns, of their own motion, appeared and 
claimed a share in makijig the laws. The claim was allowed, and their names 
appear on the records of the day, with the magistrates, as part of the General 
Court. They sat together for ten years. In 1644, the " Massachusetts Records " say 
(i. 58), on account "of divers inconveniences" of the magistrates and deputies sit- 
ting together, and " accounting it wisdom to follow the laudable practice of other 
States, who have laid groundworks for government," it was ordered both sitting 
together that each should sit apart; and they became co-ordinate and co-equal 
branches, the assent of both being necessary to make a law. Plymouth had a repre- 
sentative assembly in 1639. The charter of 1692 named twenty-eight persons as 
counsellors: afterwards they were chosen annually by a joint vote of a new House of 
Representatives and the old counsellors. 

Connecticut, Jan. 14, 1639. An agreement among the towns to be as " one public 
State or commonwealth," provided for a representative assembly, consisting of depu- 
ties chosen by the freemen, who, with a governor and council, composed the legisla- 
tive power. They sat together. The charter of 1662 provided, that the governor, 
deputy-governor, and twelve magistrates should be chosen at a general election, and 
deputies should be chosen by the towns. All these officers sat together. In 1698, 
it was ordered that the governor or deputy- govern or and magistrates should be 
called the upper house, and the deputies the lower house, that they should sit apart, 
and that no bill become a law without the consent of both. Trumbull's Connecti- 
cut, i. 102, 399. 

Maryland, February, 1639.. An assembly of the body of freemen made provision 
for a representative assembly (Chalmers's Annals, 213). The composition of this 
body was peculiar. Griffith (Maryland, 7) says, that, "upon writs being issued 
by the governor, delegates elected by the freemen were to sit as burgesses, one or 
two for each hundred, with the persons especially called by the governor, and such 
freemen as had not consented to the election of others, or any twelve or more of 
them, including always the governor and secretary." The burgesses (Chalmers, 
219) desired, in 1642, to sit by themselves; and, in 1650 (Griffith, 13), the assembly 
passed an act dividing themselves into two houses; the governor and secretary and 
council to be the upper house, and the burgesses the lower house; and all bills 
assented to by the major part of either to be the laws. 

Rhode Island, May, 1647. Provision was made under the patent or charter, 
granted in 1644 by the Parliamentary Commission, for a representation from the 
towns, which discussed proposed laws before they were presented to a general assem- 
bly. Arnold's Rhode Island, i. 203. By the charter of 1663, a governor, deputy- 
governor, and assistants were to be chosen annualty at Newport; and deputies were 
to be chosen by each town. At first, all sat in one room. In 1666, there was an 


taxes. It was early urged, that the inhabitants of a colony 
were the best informed of its circumstances, and therefore 
were the most qualified to make its laws : in the words of 

effort to have the deputies sit as a separate house; but the measure was not adopted 
till 1696. Arnold, 327, 533. The governor and assistants, or magistrates, were 
the upper house; the deputies, the lower house. 

North Carolina, 1667. Settlers were invited into this colony by the promise of 
legislative freedom. Williamson, i. 94. Hawks (i. 144) thinks there was an assem- 
bly in 1666 ; but the general assembly, under the charter, consisted of the governor, 
twelve councillors, and twelve delegates, chosen by the freeholders. Chalmers, 524. 
At a later period, while under proprietary rule (Hawks, ii. 147), the general assembly 
was divided into two houses. 

New Jersey, 1668. This proprietary colony was divided at first into East Jersey 
and West Jersey, which had separate assemblies: the first held in East Jersey was 
on May 26, 1668, and in West Jersey, Nov. 25, 1681. Gordon's New Jersey, 44-48. 
In 1702, the two parts were united, a royal government formed, and a general 
assembly provided for, consisting of the governor, a council of twelve nominated by 
the king, and a house of representatives chosen by the freemen of the counties and 
cities. They sat together. In 1738, the council was made a separate branch ; the 
governor withdrew from it, and no longer was the presiding officer. Mulford's 
New Jersey, 335. 

South Carolina, 1674. Settlers were promised a share in making the laws. 
Ramsay's South Carolina, i. 30. In 1674, the freemen elected representatives, 
when, Ramsay says, there were (ib. i. 35) "the governor, and upper and lower 
houses of assembly; and these three branches took the name of parliament." The 
colony became, in 1720, a royal government; it was settled that the governor and 
council be appointed by the king, and the representatives be chosen by the people. 
The whole house was chosen at Charleston, where "there had been often great 
tumults." Carroll, ii. 149. About 1716, the colony was divided into parishes; and 
it was provided that each parish should elect its representatives, " to be balloted for 
at the several parish churches, or some other convenient place mentioned in the 
writs, which were to be directed to the church- wardens, tmd they to make returns 
of the elected members; and of this act the people were very fond, finding it gave 
them a greater freedom of election." Ib. ii. 149. In 1720, when the colony became 
a roval government, it was provided that the governor and council should be ap- 
pointed by the king, and the representatives chosen by the people Ramsay, i. 95. 

New Hampshire, March 16, 1680. By the decision of the crown, New Hamp- 
shire was separated from Massachusetts, and a commission constituted a president 
and council" to govern the province;" and this commission authorized the quali- 
fied voters of the four towns to choose an assembly. It consisted of eleven depu- 
ties, and sat as a distinct body; the council having a negative on its acts. The king 
engaged to " continue the privilege of an assembly in the same manner and form, 
unless he should see cause to alter the same." A Royal Commission, in 1692, pro- 
vided for a governor and council, and a house of representatives, to be elected by 
the towns; both meeting separately, and acting as co-ordinate branches. Belknap, 
i. 139, 145. 

Pennsylvania, 1682. In this colony, provision was made for a representative 
assembly under the Frame of Government of 1682 ; and also under forms tried in 
1683 and 1696. In 1701, the charter agreed upon provided for an annual assembly 


an early assembly, " that there was more likelihood that 
such as were acquainted with the clime and the accidents 
thereof might on better grounds prescribe their advan- 
tages " than " such as should sit at the helm" in England. 
This theory was applied to the smaller spheres of political 
power. It was considered, that the inhabitants of a district 
or town could act more intelligently in reference to its 
affairs than any others. 1 It also became a leading aim to 
carry justice to their doors. 2 On these grounds, the legis- 
latures provided for the exercise by localities of certain 

to consist of four delegates from each county, or a greater number, if the governor 
and assembly should agree to it. This assembly was to choose a speaker and other 
officers, " to be judges of the qualifications and elections of their own members, sit 
upon their own adjournments, appoint committees, prepare bills, impeach criminals, 
and redress grievances, with all other powers and privileges of assembly, according 
to the rights of the free-born subjects of England, and the customs in any of the 
Queen's plantations in America." Franklin's Works, iii. 155. In this colony 
(Douglass's Summary, ii. 317), the council had no concern in the legislation other- 
wise than advising the governor. The legislature had but one branch. 

Delaware, 1682. This colony became a dependency on New York, but was pur- 
chased by William Penn. The three lower counties of the Delaware, New Castle, 
Kent, and Sussex, claimed, under the charter of 1681, a separate assembly, which 
they obtained, but had the same executive as Pennsylvania. 

New York, Oct. 17, 1663. The governor called an assembly, composed of seven- 
teen delegates, who adopted a charter of liberties, apportioned the representatives to 
the counties, and claimed to be a free assembly. Dunlap's New York, i. 134. 
In 1691, the first assembly convened after the Revolution, and consisted of seventeen 
delegates. The acts of this assembly are the first that were considered valid by the 
courts of law. Smith's New York, 87. The assembly, down to the Revolution, 
did not exceed twenty-seven members. Dunlap's New York, i. 212. The coun- 
cil consisted of twelve, nominated by the crown, as was the governor, and sat by 

Georgia, 1754. The first representative assembly was called by the governor, 
under a form of government matured by the Board of Trade, and authorized by the 
king. It was composed of nineteen delegates from three districts, and (McCall's 
Georgia, i. 248) had power similar to other colonial assemblies. 

1 The General Assembly of Virginia, in February, 1632, passed the following 
order: " That the governor and council shall not lay any taxes or impositions upon 
the colony, their land, or commodities, otherwise than by the authority of the Grand 
Assembly, to be levied and employed as by the assembly shall be appointed." 
Hening's Statutes, i. 171. At the first meeting (May 14, 1634) of the representa- 
tives in Massachusetts, it was voted, the governor and assistants, as in Virginia, 
sitting with them, " That none but the General Court hath power to make and estab- 
lishe lawes," or " to raise moneyes and taxes " Mass. Records, i. 117. Declaration 
of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1642, in Hening, i. 233. 

2 Hening's Preface, xvii. 


functions, involving the taxing power, vital to the peace and 
welfare of society. The forms adopted were necessarily dif- 
ferent. The influences growing out of climate and soil, in 
union with ideas, created conditions of society, and their 
tendencies, which, subsequent to the Revolution, grew into 
momentous results. The legislation of all the colonies rec- 
ognized human bondage, and its subjects were the African 
race. In the territory of Pennsylvania, and north of it, 
this race did not multiply largely. Industrial pursuits 
were carried on mainly by free labor, and the emigrants 
built their houses near each other, and organized towns. 
In the region south of Pennsylvania, the emigrants settled 
far apart from each other, on large tracts of land or planta- 
tions ; the climate suited the African race, and they greatly 
increased. The cultivation of the great staples of indigo, 
rice, and tobacco was carried on mainly by slave labor. It 
has been said, that " this single circumstance had such an 
influence that it divided the thirteen colonies into two dis- 
tinct communities, which widely differed in manners, habits 
of life, and general character." 1 The municipal forms that 
were adapted to one condition of society were impracticable 
in the other. But whether the municipality was called 
parish, borough, town, city, district, or county, the principle 
was alike recognized, that the body of its residents, accord- 
ing to prescribed rules, should manage their own local 
affairs. 2 In each the voters chose their own officers ; each 

1 Tucker's Hist. United States, i. 97. 

2 " Municipal, as used by the Romans, originally designated that which pertains 
to a municipium, or free city or town." Webster's Dictionary. This term will denote 
all the forms by which the supreme power in a community, as a colony or State, 
empowers the residents of a district to perform certain duties. 

In Virginia, the divisions named in 1619, in the election of the first representative 
body, were cities, hundreds, and plantations; but the prevailing form came to be 
counties and parishes. Thus, in 1656, all the counties, "not yet laid out into par- 
ishes," were ordered to be so laid out. Maryland, in 1702, had about forty parishes; 
the settlements in South Carolina were so scattered, that, for ninety-nine years, 
Charleston was the centre and source of judicial power (Ramsay's South Carolina, 
ii. 125, 129); and about 1716 (Carroll, ii. 149) the colony was divided into par- 
ishes. North Carolina, in 1739, had a population of only ten thousand, and was 


had its courts of justice ; each, in relation to its peculiar 
local interests, had a jurisdiction as wide as its territorial 
limits. In this way, each locality provided for the concerns 
of social comfort and of police, of education and of religion. 
This work was never done for the people, but always by 
them : they tested their own decisions, and could correct 

divided into three counties, and these again into " precincts." Georgia, in 1758, was 
divided into eight parishes. White's Statistics, 55. The powers conferred on coun- 
ties and parishes were essentially the same in all the Southern colonies. In Vir- 
ginia, in 1632, the General Assembly ordered that " highways should be laid out in 
such places as were requisite, according as the governor and council, or the commis- 
sioners for the monthly courts, should appoint, or according as the commissioners 
of every parish should agree." Various acts imposed duties on counties, such as 
building prisons, maintaining bridges and high ways, erecting workhouses, and placing 
poor children there to be instructed in spinning, &c., and paying the burgesses. 
In 1662, the following act was passed: " Whereas oftentimes some small inconve- 
niences happen in the respective counties and parishes, which cannot well be con- 
cluded in a general law: Be it therefore enacted, that the respective counties, and 
the several parishes in those counties, shall have liberty to make laws for them- 
selves; and those that are so constituted, by the major part of the said counties or 
parishes, to be binding upon them as fully as any other act." Hening, ii. 171. 
In 1642, an act provided for the formation annually of a vestry in each parish to 
maintain church government; and, in 1645, it was enacted, "That the election of 
every vestry be in the power of the m ijor part of the parishioners." According 
to these citations, the residents of a district controlled the affairs of a district ; the 
Virginia law of 1662 being as complete an embodiment of this principle, where there 
was not a single town, as any law in New England. 

In Pennsylvania, with the "Three Lower Counties," or Delaware, and New Jer- 
sey, the laws passed in relation to municipal affairs designate counties and towns. 
William Penn granted, as proprietary, the charter of Philadelphia, and this city had 
a self-perpetua'ing council; but as a county it was subject in the general laws to 
the elective principle, and named as such". In 1709, assessors were ordered to be 
chosen by the freeholders. In an act. providing for county rates and levies (1724), 
the freeholders, &c., were empowered to choose, annually, commissioners for three 
years, having three for each county (one going out of office each year), and six asess- 
ors, whose duties relative to taxes are minutely laid down. The onth administered 
to these officer* was, " Thou shalt well and truly cause the county debts to be 
speedily adjusted, and the rates and sums of money b}* virtue of this act imposed 
to be duly and equally assessed and laid according to the best of thy skill nnd 
knowledge; and herein thou shalt spare no person for favor or affection, nor grieve 
any for hatred or ill-will." Penn. Laws, 1742. In 1729, the inhabitants of towrf- 
ships, owners or occupiers of lands, were empowered to choose fit persons for pound- 
keepers. The townships were empowered to make rates for the support of the poor. 
Thus the elective principle was gradually extended in this colony in municipal 

In New Jersey, the " Concessions" (1664) of the proprietors to all who should settle 
in it, provide that, " so soon as parishes, divisions, tribes, and other distinctions are 
made," the freeholders should elect representatives; and they should " divide the 


their own judgments. The municipality was the unit in 
the system of local self-government. In it the citizen began 
to take a part in public affairs, and was trained for the 
wider field of the representative assembly. And thus it 
fostered a public spirit and a public life. What has been 
called a " bureaucracy," which has had so repressive an influ- 

province into hundreds, parishes, or tribes," or other divisions. Smith's New Jer- 
sey, 514, 515. The divisions named in the laws subsequently passed are counties, 
cities, towns-corporate, townships, and precincts, which were empowered to exercise 
certain rights, immunities, and privileges, in which the freeholders and freemen, 
having certain qualifications, voted for their officers at " town-meetings; " some acts 
providing that "only freeholders, tenants for years, or householders" should vote 
in township or precinct meetings. An act of 1710 names nine counties which were 
empowered to exercise certain rights and privileges. New Jersey Laws. 

In New Netherland, the company that effected settlements introduced the self- 
perpetuating councils of the Fatherland. Brodhead's New York, 475. Such was 
the government of Manhattan in 1647. The popular demands, however, show 
the same Germanic thirst for local self-government in this colon}' that is seen in 
Massachusetts and Virginia and other colonies. After it became an English colony, 
the municipal forms named are county, city, town, parish, manor, and precinct; and 
though the governor appointed the mayors and some other officers of the cities, yet 
even in these the freeholders chose the aldermen; and in the towns and precincts 
the inhabitants chose their officers. Thus the precinct of Goshen, " at their annual 
town-meetings for electing town officers," were empowered to elect three "free- 
holders " to lay out roads in it. New-York Laws, 212, printed 1772. Towns were 
authorized by town-grants or patents conferring municipal powers. An act (1762) 
creating two precincts authorizes the choice of " one precinct clerk, one supervisor, 
two assessors, one collector, three overseers of the poor, three fence-viewers, one 
pound-master," and also, in certain contingencies, " four constables and six overseers 
of the highways." Laws, 257. These were to be chosen annually " by the ma- 
jority of the voices of the inhabitants " assembled in town-meeting. 

In Massachusetts, during the first six years of the colony (1630 to 1636), the Gen- 
eral Court occupied itself with many things of a strictly local character, as the 
support of the ministers, appointment of constables, building of bridges, and matters 
of police ; and it appointed (1632) two persons in each town to confer with itself about 
raising a public stock. Then it ordered each town should supply its inhabitants 
with arms, provide weights and measures, and keep a pound. In the first year there 
were representatives (1634), the General Assembly ordered "that none but freemei? 
should have any vote in any town in any action of authority or necessity, or thu< 
which belongs to them by virtue of their freedom as receiving inhabitants, laying 
out lots," &c. Meantime several towns were exercising certain local offices, ar 
establishing schools, supporting the ministers, making rates, building fences, and 
even choosing " selectmen " without any special authority from the colony to do it, 
such as the proceedings in Dorchester and Charlestown related in the text (see 
page 17). The General Court, on the 3d of March, 1636, passed an important mu- 
nicipal act. The following is a portion of it: "Whereas particular towns have 
many things which concern only themselves, and the ordering of their own affairs, 
and disposing of business in their own town, it is therefore ordered, that the free- 


ence in France, is not seen in a single colony. I do not 
know of the creation, by an American legislature, of such 
an anomaly as a self-perpetuating municipal council. 

The representatives were chosen by the qualified voters. 
The elective franchise, with the object of securing intelli- 
gence and integrity for the public service, was severely 
restricted. The freehold qualification was general, and was 

men of every town, or the major part of them, shall only have power to dispose of 
their own lands and woods, with all the privileges and appurtenances of the said 
towns to grant lots, and make such orders as may concern the well ordering of 
their own towns, not repugnant to the laws and orders here established by the Gen- 
eral Court, as also to lay mulcts and penalties for the breach of these orders, and to 
levy and distrain the same not exceeding the sum of 20s ; also to choose their own 
particular officers, as constables, surveyors for the highways and the like;" and the 
order permits two constables for each town, but it does not name the selectmen. 
Some of the towns were now choosing these annually, and they at least were recog- 
nized in legislation. Thus, in 1642 (Records, ii. 4), the court declared "that the 
selected townsmen have power to lay out particular and private ways concerning 
their own town only" (6); that "in ever}' town the chosen men, appointed for 
managing the prudential affairs of the town," should have certain powers over the 
training of children ; and, in 1646, that the five or seven or more men, " which are 
selected for prudential affairs, in certain towns, should have power to end causes 
under 20s. ; " and, in 1647, the term " selectmen " is used in the laws. New powers 
from time to time were conferred on the towns. Thus, Sept. 6, 1638, the General 
Court ordered that every inhabitant " who shall not voluntarily contribute propor- 
tionate to his abilit}' with other freemen of the same town to all assessed charges, as 
well for the upholding of the ordinances of the churches as otherwise" (Records, 
i. 20), should be compelled *to do it by taxes, to be levied as in other cases. This 
vital power, wisely or unwisely, identified the parish with the town. 

In 1639, Plymouth passed a law which enacted that, " All the townships within 
this government, allowed or to be allowed, shall have liberty to meet together and 
to make such town-orders," with power to impose fines under twenty shillings. 
Plymouth Col. Records, xi. 32. The Connecticut Assembly of 1639 empowered 
the towns of Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield, or any others within their juris- 
diction, each to have powers to dispose of their own lands, to choose their own 
officers, and make such orders as may be for the well ordering of their own towns, 
being not repugnant to any law established by the assembly ; also to impose penal- 
ties for a breach of the same. Conn. Col. Records, 36-39. The four or seven men 
chosen by the towns to conduct their affairs were termed " townsmen." In Rhode 
Island, the inhabitants of Providence agreed to be " incorporated into a town fel- 
lowship; " and they managed their own affairs. The General Assembly, under the 
charter, granted, from time to time, acts of incorporation, in which Were defined the 
local officers and their duties, such as two wardens and the town council. Arnold's 
Rhode Island. In New Hampshire, there are seen similar proceedings. The inhabi- 
tants of Exeter, in 1639, signed an agreement " to combine themselves together to 
erect and set up among us such government as should be to their best discerning " 
(Farmer's Belknap, 432); and the inhabitants of Dover (1640) " voluntarily agreed 


further limited, in some of the colonies, by a pecuniary 
qualification ; and, in three of the New-England colonies, 
church membership was required for the franchise, which 
proved to be so restrictive in Massachusetts as to exclude, 
for thirty years, three-fourths of the male inhabitants from 
the ballot-box. 1 There were, in some of the colonies, laws 
imposing penalties on absentees from town-meetings or 
from elections, an embodiment of a conviction, that it was 
the duty of all citizens to take a part in the management 
of public aifairs. The law, in some cases, was arbitrary ; 
but the sentiment upon which it was based is sound : for 
whoever declines to take his share of the administration of 
municipal or other public duties, shows that he regards his 
personal ease or the gratification of his tastes as of more 

to combine themselves into a body politic, that they might the more comforta- 
bly enjoy the benefit of his majesty's laws, together with such laws as should be con- 
cluded by a major part of the freemen." Ib. 433. 

John Adams (Works, v. 495) points to the towns of New England as one of 
the institutions that supply a key to American history, naming, as the chief func- 
tions which these quasi corporations performed, the making of roads, the support 
of the poor, choosing their officers, and, " above all, choosing their representatives in 
the legislature, and assembling, as of right, to discuss public affairs." The same 
functions outside of New England, were provided for in the divisions of parish, 
county, and other forms; and, in the period of the Revolution, the counties of the 
Southern colonies acted in political affairs with a similar efficiency to the towns of 
New England. 

I have, in this note, made only such citations as seemed to justify the statements 
made in the text. In all the colonies there is seen the same spirit of local self-gov- 

I have not met with a volume, or even an essny, on the growth of the munici- 
pal system in the United States. Professor Joel Parker contributed to the " Pro- 
ceedings of the Mass. Hist. Soc." of 1866-7, a valuable paper entitled " The Origin, 
Organization, and Influence of the Towns of New England." 

1 Church membership was a qualification for voters in Massachusetts, New Haven, 
and Connecticut. It was ordered, May 18, 1631, before there was a representative 
body in Massachusetts, " that no man should be admitted to this body politic but such 
as are members of some of the churches within the limits of the same " This was 
not repealed until Aug. 3, 1664. Mass. Records. An act of 1656 (Hening, i 403) 
of the Virginia -assembly reads, " Whereas we conceive it something hard and un- 
agreeable to reason, that any person shall pay equal taxes, and yet have no votes 
in elections;" therefore it orders that the acts excluding freemen from voting for 
burgesses should be repealed : but this colony enacted, in 1670, that none but free- 
holders and householders should vote. In Pennsylvania, the qualifications were a 
freehold of fifty acres, ten cleared, and other estate of 50. 


account than the preservation of his rights or the welfare 
of his family, his neighbors, or his country. It is only by 
an active participation in political concerns, that Americans 
can discharge their obligations as members of society. 

The public meeting is seen from the first' in the colonies. 
As a means of expressing public opinion, it must be regarded 
as a vital part of self-government. I have met with but 
few allusions to this custom in the statutes. It seems to 
have been assumed as a right, and with it the right of a free 
examination of political questions. An early Massachusetts 
law bears on this custom. It provided, that every man, 
whether inhabitant or foreigner, free or not free, should 
have liberty to go to any public court, council, and town- 
meeting ; and, either in speech or writing, prefer any com- 
plaint or present any petition, in reference to subjects of which 
the meeting had cognizance, if it were done in convenient 
time, due order, and respectful manner. 1 In the public 
meeting, whether summoned by the authorities or called by 
private citizens, whether composed of the body of the peo- 
ple, or of delegates as in conventions, men met on the foot- 
ing of equality, and exercised, as of right, free discussion ; 
and at a time when, in most other countries, the same 
classes were precluded from taking part in public affairs. 
It was a remark, in an early petition of the freemen of 
Charlestown, that the enjoyment of these immunities "ren- 
dered them the most happy people they know of in the 
world ; " 2 and, at the Revolution, this self-government was 
regarded as an invaluable right, purchased by toil, treasure, 
and blood. 3 

Though old principles were at the base of the munici- 

1 Massachusetts Code of 1641. 

2 A Petition of the Freemen of Charlestown, 1668 (Hist, of Charlestown, 159), 
names " the free choice of our heads, or rulers," as essential to their freedom, among 
the privileges and immunities they enjoyed. The Virginia Declaration of 1642 
(Hening, i. 231) says, that " the present happiness is exemplified to us by the freedom 
of yearly assemblies," and the " legal trial by jury in all criminal and civil causes 
when it should be demanded." 

Letter of Joseph Warren, March 19, 1766 : Life and Times, 21. 


pality and the legislature, yet the prominent forms in which 
they were embodied, suggested by the circumstances of the 
condition of the people, were original, and may be termed 
American. The object sought was to supply the wants of 
the people, and promote the common good. The natural 
product of this self-government was a cluster of thirteen 
distinct and essentially free communities, composed of a 
population who appreciated the value of their rights, and 
felt a personal concern in their preservation. They had 
prejudices against each other, rivalries, and sharply defined 
provincialisms. But, however antagonistical might have 
been special circles of impulses and objects, however dif- 
ferent the tendencies of their social systems, and however 
strongly the law of diversity might have ruled in their 
development for a century and a half, yet, in due time, all 
the colonies fell under the influence of a spirit of union, 
and each contributed to promote the design of Providence 
in the formation of a great Republic in America. 

II. The Idea of National Union. An early American 
writer and pioneer states, that the people saw, by daily expe- 
rience in the beginnings of their work, that they could not 
succeed in their undertaking without an agreement with 
one another for mutual assistance ; and that they thought the 
colonies would one day be "joined together in one common 
bond of unity and peace." l The appreciation of a great 
and vital want will account for the origin of the idea of a 
common union. A study of its embodiment reveals the 
feature of growth. It is so original and peculiar, that it 
may be termed American. 

As the main object of these pages is to trace this de- 
velopment, it would anticipate the narrative to enlarge, in 
this place, on details. 

The first conception of an American Union entertained 
by the founders of New England was to join in political 
bonds only those colonies in which the people were of a 


1 Hubbard's History of New England, 465. He wrote before 1682. 


similar way of thinking in theology, when, in the spirit of 
a theocracy, they aimed to form a Christian State in the 
bosom of the Church. This was embodied in the New- 
England Confederacy (1643 to 1684). Its basis was not 
broad enough to embrace the whole of this territory, or 
sufficiently just to include all its population. 

The next tendencies to a union are seen after New Neth- 
erland was added to the dominions of the British crown, 
and was called New York. In the inter-colonial correspond- 
ence that took place, growing out of the Revolution of 1689 
in the colonies, and in the call of a congress, in 1690, for 
the safety of the whole land, there appears the conception 
of union as comprehensive as the colonies. 

Union was continuously suggested during the succeeding 
seventy years (1690 to 1760). The class who urged it from 
an American point of view, and for objects in harmony 
with the free institutions that had taken root, aimed mainly 
at removing the obstructions that rival communities threw 
in the way of progress, and at providing for the common de- 
fence. It was urged, that the people who were occupying 
this portion of North America were naturally linked to- 
gether by material interests ; sympathized instinctively with 
free institutions ; and had before them a common destiny, 
and hence ought to be united in a common polity. But 
circumstances prevented the formation of a public opinion in 
favor of the adoption of any of the schemes that were pre- 
sented. The Plan of Union, recommended by a convention 
held at Albany in 1754, was rejected by all the colonies. 

The idea of union received a great impetus when the 
policy was adopted by the cabinet of George III. to govern 
and tax America. This policy involved aggression on the 
old right of self-government. Union was then enjoined 
upon the colonies by the popular leaders, as the sum of 
American politics ; the demand of the hour, to promote 
social, political, and national well-being ; the path of duty 
and of honor ; the way pointed out by Providence to sue- 


cessfully resist aggression, and to obtain a redress of griev- 
ances. The sentiment deepened into conviction, and this 
ripened into faith in its practicability. It was the religion of 
politics. Union became a fact, and had the moral force 
of unwritten law. Under its rule and inspiration, a rare 
and rich public life rose into great political action, through 
an efficient party organization. At length Thirteen United 
Colonies stood (1774) in the attitude of armed resistance 
to the measures of the ministry ; and, in the spirit in which 
the Great Charter was wrung from King John, they de- 
manded their liberties under the British Constitution. In 
this situation, American society, imbued with the germinal 
spirit and influence of the doctrine of freedom and equality, 
claimed the right to hold on to what it had gained and the 
right of progress for the Future. 

Union had been urged, up to this time, by the colonies, not 
merely in the spirit of allegiance to the crown, but with 
feelings of pride in being parts of a great empire ; but their 
attitude was pronounced from the throne to be rebellion, and 
the force of the nation was summoned to suppress it. This 
was an assertion, based upon the Past of Absolutism and 
Privilege, of a right to give the local law to America. This 
forced the popular party to accept the situation of revolu- 
tion, and to aim at the object of separation. There was 
then grafted on and blended with the conception of union, 
the sentiment of nationality. This found proud embodi- 
ment in the Declaration of Independence. 

When the people passed from the status of subjects, exer- 
cising powers of government under the crown as depend- 
ent colonies, to that of sovereigns in a nation composed of 
independent States, they had a deeply rooted conviction, 
that one general government, or one American constitution, 
was a necessity. They kept in view, in their utterances, 
distinctly and steadily, the aim of framing a system that 
should protect individuals, municipalities, and States, in 
their several spheres of action, while it should provide for 


an efficient discharge of national offices. The first result 
reached in " The Articles of Confederation " recognized 
the historic local self-government, but failed to adequately 
embody the idea of national union, and this form proved 
incompetent to secure the blessings that had been attained 
by the Revolution ; but both ideas, as they had been applied 
in institutions, were recognized in the next great result 
of " The More Perfect Union " of the Constitution of the 
United States, which was ordained as the supreme law of 
the land. 

The Republic thus established rose, as the fulfilment of 
a logical sequence, from a state of society in which rank and 
privilege did not exist. The principles on which it was 
founded were brought over by the emigrants ; so that the 
last finish in the Constitution, after the achievement of inde- 
pendence, was but the fulfilment of the first thought. 1 The 
form of government was designed for the welfare of a free 
people and a great nation, by providing for them just and 
equal laws. The ancient republics, based on the inequality 
of men, were, in reality, oppressive aristocracies : 2 the repub- 
lics of the Middle Ages had free institutions within their 
walls ; but outside of them the divine right of kings or nobles 
remained unshaken : 3 the Republic of the United States 
was founded on the American theory announced in the 
Declaration of Independence, and this was embodied in the 
rules of law for the conduct of its citizens in the Con- 
stitution. This republic presents the rare and difficult 
system of one general government, the action of which 
extends over the whole nation, but which possesses certain 
enumerated powers, and of numerous State governments, 
which retain and exercise all powers not delegated to 

1 Gervinus: Introduction to the Nineteenth Century, 66. 

2 Schmidt (La Socie'te' Civile, 25) says, " The most oppressive aristocracies." 
Bridges (France under Richelieu and Colbert, 124) says, that, even in the most 
democratic Greek and Roman States, " the free citizens constituted a pure aristocracy, 
the vast mass of the working population being slaves." 

8 Bridges, 124. 


the Union. 1 Under this protection and organization, the 
two elements of the national life, embodied into institutions 
adapted to their respective spheres, unfolded their blessings 
in harmony, and, through the great modern instrumentality 
of representation, are extending over the continent. A 
narrative of the rise of this system will show how in- 
stinctively the people appreciated and valued the grandest 
traditionary influence in all history, Local Self-government, 2 
and that providential product, American Union. 

1 Opinion: 9 Wheaton, 205. 

2 " The form of government which alone renders popular institutions compatible 
with extent of territory, is that form which has its origin in this ancient element of 
Saxon local self-government. Who can question that it is such a political system that 
has expanded this Republic from its primitive circumspection to its present extent; 
so that, that which at first reached not far beyond the sound of the Atlantic, became 
enlarged beyond the mountains; then beyond the Mississippi; and now, having 
crossed the second great mountain range of the continent, has on its other border the 
sound of the earth's other great ocean. I know of no grander traditional influence 
to be observed in history than this simple Saxon characteristic element, and the 
mighty issues of it now manifest around us, the connection between this principle 
of local self-government obscurely recognized in the ancient fatherland of the Saxon, 
carried thence to England to be combined with the central power of a constitu- 
tional monarchy, and now a living principle here, helping, by the harmony of State 
rights and federal energy, to extend and perpetuate the Republic." Professor 
Reed's Lectures on the Union. 



1643 TO 1684. 

THE analysis, in the preceding chapter, of the manner in 
which the Thirteen Colonies were founded, shows that the 
immigrants, in framing their separate governments, obeyed 
a primitive tradition of their Germanic ancestors ; and as 
society was thus divided into distinct communities, each 
unfolding a local life peculiar to itself, civilization obeyed in 
its development a law of diversity : but the idea of joining 
these communities into a union for their common defence 
and general welfare was suggested so early by the circum- 
stances of their condition, and expanded so naturally into 
the conception of a republic and a nation, that it may be 
termed American. The two elements of local government 
and union were first combined in a common polity in the 
New-England Confederacy. 

This confederacy was formed in 1643. Most of the maps 
of North America at that period are either French or Dutch, 
and they assign to the English colonies but a small por- 
tion of the soil. The most comprehensive and minute is 
that of Sanson, the creator of French geography. He gave 
narrow boundaries to represent the vast region which the 
patent of Virginia covered, and the territory which the 
emigrants to New England were occupying ; and he allotted 
still smaller limits to the splendid land which the Holland- 
ers claimed as New Netherland. The Spanish possession of 
Florida is delineated as beginning at Mexico and extending 
on the Atlantic coast as far as Virginia, with a wide sweep 



into the interior. The remainder of the northern part of 
the continent is assigned to France. The French mission- 
aries were then penetrating the Valley of the Ohio, and 
giving names to the stations which they established ; and 
these names, covering a large portion of the map, show the 
vastness of the region claimed as New France. 1 

Colonization, up to that period, had made slow progress 
in North America. The Colony of Virginia, after thirty- 
six years of difficulty and struggle, had, together with Mary- 
laud, founded under the most happy auspices, a population 
of less than twenty thousand. The Swedes planted a small 
colony on the Delaware ; and the Hollanders established 
posts or forts at Nassau, near the present site of Phila- 
delphia, at Albany, and at Manhattan, with bouweries or 
plantations near the Hudson : but the province was in a low 
condition. The New-England colonies had a population of 
about twenty-five thousand. Perhaps five thousand would: 
be a large estimate for the numbers of Frenchmen, Span- 
iards, Swedes, and Hollanders who had settled on the soil 
claimed by their respective countries. A century and a half 

1 There are good maps of sections of North America at this period, as of New 
England, New Netherland, and Virginia; but the general maps are crude. The 
first edition of Hondius's Mercator the "Atlas Minor" was printed in 1606. I 
found the second edition, printed at Amsterdam in 1607, in the " Prince Collection " in 
Boston Public Library. This contains a map of North and South America, entitled 
"AMERICA DESCRIP." It has on it " Machauche," "Virginia," and " Florida ;" 
but, of course, it is very crude. Yet the plate from which this map was printed 
was used by Purchas (1625) with the title of " HONDIVS his map of America;" 
by Saltonstal, in his translation of Hondius, in 1635; by Gage, in his "New Survey 
of the West Indies," in 1655; and in the " Gorges Tracts," one of which is entitled 
" America Painted to the Life," in 1659, in which the map is termed '' a complete 
and exquisite map," having the head-line left off. There is in Purchas's "Pil- 
grimes," part iii., a beautiful map of America of 1625; but it is too early for my 

Sanson was born at Amiens, in 1600, and at sixteen drew a better map of Ancient 
Gaul than that of Ortelius or of Mercator. He died in 1667. Ency. Britannica. His 
map, printed in Paris in 1657, is entitled " AMERICQVE SEPTENTRIOXALE," and has 
many more names than Bleau's map, Amsterdam, 1635, De Laet's French, 1640, or 
Visscher's of 1652, and others I have examined. Sanson's map was printed in a 
volume describing America. His son, G. Sanson, printed this map, with additions, 
in 1669 ; and, in 1693, another son, N. Sanson, printed an edition of his father's 
general geography. 


after the discoveries of Columbus in America, there were 
probably not fifty thousand European emigrants within the 
original limits of the United States. 1 

England long manifested great indifference to the coloni- 
zation of North America, the bold spirit of her early 
navigators being in marked contrast to the stolidity of her 
statesmen. In the period which has been termed " the first 
age of the colonies," the whole superintendence of the king, 
both as to executive and legislative powers, was exercised 
by the Privy Council. 2 The work of colonization and gov- 
ernment was committed to the two great companies, the 
London and the Plymouth, whose spirit of monopoly and 
arbitrary power had a chilling effect on British enterprise. 3 
The latter company the Council for New England 
obtained, in 1620, the grant of a great tract of territory in 
America. At length, Charles I. created, in 1634, by a com- 
mission, a board called the u Lords Commissioners of For- 
eign Plantations," consisting of certain high officers of state, 
any five of whom were empowered to make laws, constitu- 
tions, or ordinances affecting either the public condition or 
the private property of the colonists. Archbishop Laud was 
the ruling spirit of this board. At that period, the king 
was striving to absorb all the functions of government, and 
was attempting to rule without a parliament. This occa- 
sioned that great and noble uprising, the Revolution of 
1640, which for a period frustrated the designs upon the 
liberties of New England. A civil war then broke out ; and 

1 In " A Perfect Description of Virginia," printed in London in 1649, it is stated, 
that there are in Virginia " about fifteen thousand English " and three hundred 
negroes; that one hundred Swedes had come and crept into a river called Delawar, 
and were driving a great trade in furs with the natives ; and that this plantation and 
the Hollanders parted Virginia and New England, which " was in a good condition 
for a livelihood," and contained about twenty thousand. The Indian war of five 
years had nearly depopulated Manhattan and the greater part of western Long 
Island; and, in 1647, such was the low condition of New Netherland, that, excepting 
the Long-Island settlements, scarcely fifty bouweries could be counted. Brodhead, 
410, 465. 

2 Chalmers's Opinions, 5. 8 Chalmers's Annals, 92. 


the fall of Hampden, in 1643, in so just a cause, gave an 
inspiring watchword to the future American patriots. 

The Indians were told of the struggle that was going on 
in England, and it became a saying among them, that now 
or never was the time to root out -the English, as they could 
not be assisted by their nation ; and all who encroached on 
their hunting grounds were alike to the savages. They 
assaulted Virginia with terrible severity ; 1 the whole of the 
territory subsequently called New Jersey was conquered ; 2 
they swept over New Netherland with such desolation as 
nearly to depopulate Manhattan, and to make 1643 a year 
of blood. 3 They had resolved to attack New England. 
Though the colonies of Virginia and Maryland furnish but 
a few facts illustrative of the progress of Union, yet this 
simultaneous assault on the colonies showed the necessity 
of uniting their strength for the common defence. 

The New-England colonies were increasing in importance. 
Plymouth obtained a patent from the Council for New Eng- 
land ; but it only conferred a title to the soil. Without 
other authority than that assumed in the covenant which its 
founders entered into on board the " Mayflower," they estab- 
lished all the branches of a government. In twenty-three 
years, however, they attained to a population of only three 
thousand. William Bradford was their governor. Massa- 
chusetts, first under a patent from the Council for New 
England, confirming a right of the soil, and then under 
a charter from the crown conveying powers of government, 
had grown into a commonwealth, had just taken (1641) the 
settlements commenced in New Hampshire under its juris- 
diction, and had reached a population of fifteen thousand. 
John Winthrop was the governor. The emigrants who went 
out from Massachusetts and founded Connecticut, without a 
charter, agreed, in 1639, upon articles of association that 
joined them in a body politic. They had increased to 

1 Howison's Virginia, i. 287. 2 Brodhead's New York, 369. 

8 Brodhead's New York, 347, 369. 


three thousand in numbers. John Haynes was the gov- 
ernor. A company direct from London, without a charter, 
founded the Colony of New Haven, and voted that the Holy 
Scriptures should be the perfect rule of their commonwealth. 
They numbered twenty-five hundred, but had not elected a 
governor. 1 The banishment of Roger Williams from Massa- 
chusetts resulted in the foundation of Providence, and of 
Rhode Island, on the great principles of liberty of con- 
science in religion, and the will of the majority the demo- 
cratic principle in civil affairs. The colony was small. 
Their leader, in 1643, went to England, to solicit a charter. 
A settlement had been commenced, under the proprietorship 
of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, in the province of Maine, with 
the Church of England as the established religion, *and 
with municipal forms, ranks, and titles like those in Eng- 
land ; but it did not flourish. Such is a glance at the 
political New England of that day. It was described at 
that period as containing fifty towns and villages, thirty or 
forty churches, a castle, a college, prisons, forts, comfortable 
houses, gardens, and orchards, all the work of the set- 
tlers, and at their own charge, " no public hand reaching 
out any help." 2 

The builders of this prosperity were doing in their local 
government the things which in England were done for the 
body of the people by the few ; a correspondent of Arch- 
bishop Laud, who kept a jealous eye on the colonies, repre- 
sented to him in a letter, that " it was not new discipline that 
was aimed at, but sovereignty ; " 3 and men of this class peti- 
tioned, that the several jurisdictions might be consolidated, 
and a general governor be appointed. At that period, a 
writ of quo warranto was issued against the Massachusetts 
charter, and the Commissioners of Foreign Plantations de- 
signed to remodel the internal regulations of the colonies. 

1 I take the careful estimates of Palfrey's " Hist. New England," ii. 6. 

2 New England's First Fruits, printed in London, in 1643. 
8 Hutchinson's Mass., i. 86. 


In this time of gloom, when the colonists were obliged to 
encounter the savages at their doors, and the arbitrary 
proceedings of Charles in England, the General Court of 
Massachusetts, in an address to the Lords Commissioners, 
in defence of their local liberties under the charter, made 
this earnest protestation on the vital point of sovereignty : 
" We do hereby humbly and sincerely profess, that we are 
ready to yield all due obedience to our sovereign Lord, the 
king's majesty, and to your Lordships under him ; and in 
this mind we left our native country." 1 However ready 
the commissioners were to interfere with the internal affairs 
of the colonies, they were not disposed to use the force of 
the nation to protect the lives or the interests of the emi- 
graifts. One of the foremost men of Plymouth, Edward 
Winslow, being in London, petitioned this board, in behalf 
of the plantations, either to defend them from the encroach- 
ments of the French on the east, or from the Hollanders 
on the west, or " give special warrant to the plantations to 
act ; " and he urged this petition before the commissioners. 
He found friends among them. But, at the instance of 
Laud, the charge was brought against the petitioner, that, 
without being a minister, he had exhorted in the congre- 
gation ; and that, in his capacity as a magistrate, he had 
joined parties in marriage. He admitted the facts. For 
these acts, this excellent man a pillar of old Plymouth 
was ordered by the board to be committed to the Fleet, 
and was imprisoned for seventeen weeks. The colonists, in 
this rough way, were told to practise the duty and the virtue 
of. self-reliance. They profited by the lesson. 2 

The emigrants, thrown on their own resources, looked for 
security in joint effort. It was their thought in the begin- 
ning that one day the colonies would be "joined together 

1 The whole address is in Hutchinson, i. 507. 

2 The petition and details are in Deane's " Bradford," 328, 330. Winthrop (i. 172) 
says this petition was offered " by ill advice, for it was a precedent that the colonies 
should do nothing hereafter without a commission from England." 


in one common bond." 1 A proposition for a Union was 
suggested at a meeting of Connecticut magistrates and min- 
isters in Boston, in 1637 ; 2 the next year, articles embody- 
ing the idea were elaborately discussed ; 3 in 1639, Haynes 
and Hooker were nearly a month in Boston, urging the 
project ; 4 in 1640, an assault by the Indians appeared to be 
so imminent that the magistrates of Aquidnet (Rhode 
Island), Connecticut, and New Haven, in a joint letter to 
the Massachusetts authorities, again proposed it ; and, in 
reply, the General Court accepted the suggestions of the 
letter, but uncivilly and narrowly refused to have their reply 
transmitted to the Rhode-Island magistrates, saying that 
they were men " not to be capitulated with," either " for 
themselves or the people of the island where they inhabit." 5 
Again, in 1642, the civil war in England prompted a re- 
newal of the measure. 6 The details of this long action are 
quite circumstantial. 

In the following year, the attitude of the powerful tribe 
of Narragansetts was so threatening as to cause commis- 
sioners from four of the colonies to meet in Boston and 
agree upon the terms of confederation. 7 Those from Massa- 
chusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven signed articles of 
association on the 19th of May, 1643. The delegates from 
Plymouth, not being authorized to sign, reported the articles 
to their General Court, which submitted them to the towns 
to be acted on ; and in this way they were ratified by the 
people and form an interesting precedent in our political 
history. Then the General Court empowered its delegates 
to affix the seal of that colony to the articles. Thus was 
formed the Confederation of " The United Colonies of New 
England." 8 The four jurisdictions had a population of 
twenty-four thousand, living in thirty-nine towns. 

1 Hubbard, 366. 2 Winthrop, i- 237. Ibid., i. 284. * ibid., 299. 

6 Mass. Records, i. 305. 6 Winthrop, ii. 85. 7 Bradford, 416. 

8 Winthrop, ii 99. The commissioners from Plymouth were Edward Winslow 
and William Collier; from Connecticut, John Haynes and Edward Hopkins; from 
New Haven, Theophilus Eaton and Thomas Greyson; from Saybrook, George Fen- 


When the Connecticut magistrates returned to their 
homes, bearing the welcome news that the bond of union 
had been agreed upon, an eminent divine of this colony, 
Thomas Hooker, addressed to John Winthrop, the Father 
of Massachusetts, a strain of acknowledgment and con- 
gratulation that reveals the elevated thought and noble aims 
of the founders of New England : " Much Honored in our 
Blessed Savior : At the return of our majistrates, when I 
understood the gracious and desired success of their en- 
deavor, and by the joint relation of them all, not only your 
Christian readiness, but enlarged faithfulness in an especial 
manner to promote so good a work . . . my heart would not 
suffer me but as unfeignedly to acknowledge the Lord's good- 
ness, so affectionately to remember your candid and cordial 
carriage in a matter of so great consequence ; laboring by 
your special prudence to settle a foundation of safety and 
prosperity in succeeding ages : a work which will be found 
not only for your comfort, but for your crown at the great 
day of your account. Its the greatest good that can befall 
a man in this world, to be an instrument under God to do a 
great deal of good. To be the repairer of the breach, was 
of old counted matter of the highest praise and acceptance 
with God and man : much more to be a means, not only 
to maintain peace and truth in your days, but to leave both, 
as a legacy to those that come after until the coming of the 
Son of Man in the clouds." 1 

The terms of the agreement between the four colonies are 
contained in a preamble and eleven articles. It is related 
in the preamble, that they all came into these parts of 
America with one and the same end in view, namely, to 
advance the cause and enjoy the liberties of the gospel in 
purity and with peace. Being dispersed to such an extent 

wick; and from Massachusetts, John Winthrop, Thomas Dudley, and Simon Brad- 
street, of the magistrates ; Edward Gibbons and William Tyng, of the deputies ; and 
William Hathorne, the treasurer. 

i This letter was first printed in the 4th series " Mass. Hist. Coll.," vi. 390. The 
manuscript has on it Winthrop' s indorsement, " Rec. (5) 24, 1643." 


that they could not be in one government ; and living en- 
compassed with people of several nations, and with nations 
who had combined against them ; and seeing that the sad 
distractions of England prevented them from receiving that 
protection which at other times they might expect, they 
conceived it to be their bounden duty to enter into a " con- 
sociation " for mutual help and strength in all their future 
concernments, that, as in nation and religion, so in other 
respects they might continue one according to the tenor of 
the articles, and to be called by the name of the United 
Colonies of New England. 

By the second and third articles, the first being the 
preamble, the colonies agreed to form a firm and per- 
petual league of friendship for offence and defence ; but 
provided, " that the plantations settled within the limits of 
the Massachusetts should be for ever under the government 
of Massachusetts, and should have peculiar jurisdiction 
among themselves, in all cases, as an entire body ; " the 
same terms being used in reserving similar rights to the 
other colonies. It was also agreed, that, without the con- 
sent of the rest, no other plantation should be admitted into 
the league, nor that any not in the league should be re- 
ceived by either of them, nor that any two should join in 
one jurisdiction. By the fourtlj article, the charges of 
wars were to be apportioned in each jurisdiction, according 
to the number of males in each from sixteen to sixty years 
of age ; each jurisdiction being left " to its own just course 
and custom of rating themselves and people according to 
their different estates, with due respect to their qualities 
and exemptions among themselves, though the confederates 
take no notice of any such privilege." The fifth article 
provided for the methods of summoning the forces of the 
colonies into the field in case of an invasion of any juris- 
diction by an enemy. In a time of danger, two magistrates 
might summon a meeting of the commissioners of the con- 


The three succeeding articles provided for the choice, by 
each of the four jurisdictions, of two commissioners, who were 
to meet once every year, to consider all affairs belonging to 
the confederation. They were required to be in the fellow- 
ship of the churches. Any six were empowered to deter- 
mine any question ; but, if these did not agree on a 
proposition, it was to be sent to the four general courts, 
and, if they agreed, it was to be carried into effect by all the 
confederates : but they were restricted from " intermeddling 
with the government of any of the jurisdictions, which, by 
the third article, was preserved entirely to themselves." 
They might choose out of themselves a president, who, how- 
ever, was to have no more power than any other member. 
It was provided, that this board should " frame and estab- 
lish agreements and orders in general cases of a civil na- 
ture," as for preserving peace and preventing war ; for 
securing the free and speedy passage of justice in each 
jurisdiction to all the confederates equally ; for receiving 
those who removed from one plantation to another ; for 
regulating their intercourse with the Indians ; and for the 
return of runaway servants and fugitives from justice. 

The ninth and tenth articles contained a pledge by each 
not to engage in war without the sanction of the commis- 
.sioners, and that in exigencies four commissioners might 
consent to a war ; the eleventh provided for the cases arising 
under a breach of the articles ; and the twelfth, for ratify- 
ing the confederation. 

The four colonies in this compact, as belonging to " one 
nation," formed a league for self-defence and the common 
welfare. Its basis was that of the equality of the parties 
to it, or of each colony as an entire body ; and it was its 
object to secure equality of rights to the inhabitants of all. 
It was specified, that the vital subject of taxation should 
be left to the several local jurisdictions, and that the com- 
missioners should not intermeddle with their administra- 
tive functions ; thereby recognizing the inviolability of the 


local government. The Union element, represented in the 
Board of Commissioners, was but feebly provided for ; 
the board being little more than a consulting body, which 
could devise what ought to be done, but could not execute 
it. The theocracy of the time is seen in requiring for the 
commissioners church membership, a qualification re- 
quired in three of the colonies to constitute a voter. This 
rule excluded other colonies. Thus the colony in Maine 
was excluded because " it ran a different course " in re- 
ligion and civil affairs from the other colonies ; 1 and the 
colony of Rhode Island, for various reasons, was never able 
to get admission to the confederacy. A great principle was 
at the bottom of the confederation ; but, noble as were the 
aims of those who handled it, they had not yet attained to 
sufficient breadth of view to apply it even to the whole of 
New England. 2 

1 Winthrop, ii. 100. 

2 The qualification that the commissioners should be in church membership 
would of course exclude both these colonies. In " A Discourse about civil government 
in a new Plantation whose design is Religion," published in 1663, but written many 
years before, according to Professor Kingsley (Hist. Discourse), by John Daven- 
port, according to others, by John Cotton, the principle of the church member- 
ship qualification is defended on the ground of usage by an appeal to facts. At the 
close of very hard reading is the following: " But I must break off lest I grow too 
tedious. How easily might I adde the Consent of all Nations to this Truth, in some 
proportion, who generally practise accordingly V In our Native Countrey, none are 
intrusted with managing of Public Affairs but Members of the Church of England (as 
they call them). In Holland, where the Arminian Party had many Burgomasters on 
their side, Grave Maurice came into divers of their Cities with Troops of Souldiers, by 
Order from the States General!, and put those Arminian magistrates out of Office, 
and caused them to chuse onely such as were of the Dutch Churches. And in Rot- 
terdam (and I think it is so in other Towns) the Vrentscap (who are all of them of 
the Dutch Church, and free Burgers) do out of their own company chuse the Bur- 
gomaster, and other Magistrates and Officers. In all Popish Countreys and Planta- 
tions, they observe it strictly, to intrust none with the managing of Public Civil 
Affairs but such as are Catholicks, (as they speak) and of the Roman Church. Yea, 
in Turkv itself, they are careful that none but a man devoted to Mahomet bear 
public office. Yea, these very Indians that worship the Devil will not be under the 
Government of any Sagamores but such as joyn with them in Observance of their 
Pawawes and Idolitries: That it seems to be a Principle imprinted in the mindes 
and hearts of all men in the equity of it : That such a Form of Government as best 
serveth to Establish their Religion, should by the consent of all be Established in 
the Civil State. " p. 24. 


This league, in many important respects, met the expecta- 
tions of its founders. It combined the strength of the 
colonies. It regulated their relations with each other. It 
was used as a high court to determine questions of jurisdic- 
tion. It managed the relations with the Indians, and some- 
times negotiated with the French and the Dutch. The 
spirit of subordination to the supreme power in which it 
dealt with matters having a national bearing was illustrated 
in the adjustment (1650) of a threatening boundary dispute 
between the people of New Haven and New Netherland, 
which stipulated that it should be binding u until a full de- 
termination be agreed upon in Europe, by mutual consent 
of the two States of England and Holland." It labored to 
promote the growth of Harvard College and to propagate 
the gospel. It increased largely the importance of New 
England ; and though it became weak and inefficient by 
the total absence of a self-sustaining power, yet in crises 
when great public wants supply defects in forms, it was used 
with great effect to provide for the common safety. 

While the colonists were forming this confederation, the 
spectacle of progress which New England presented was so 
gratifying to the Long Parliament, that, in 1642, it freed 
certain merchandise entering its ports from duties, declaring 
" that the plantations in New England, by the blessing of 
the Almighty, had goopl and prosperous success without any 
charge to this State, and are now likely to prove very happy 
for the propagation of the gospel in those parts, and very 
beneficial and commodious to this kingdom and nation." l 
The benefit thus recognized was the foundation for an in- 
crease of commercial advantages, and for a numerous peo- 
ple of English sentiments and ideas. But the assumption 
of self-government the re-appearance of Saxon freedom 
was looked upon, throughout the colonial age, with jealousy 

1 The Massachusetts General Court, in gratitude for this act, ordered it to be 
entered on their records, where it stands under the date of May 10, 1643. Records, 
i. 34. 


by the ruling classes of England, who never lost sight of the 
object of moulding and controlling American affairs. It is 
doubtful whether many members of the Long Parliament got 
politically beyond the idea, that the body of the people, 
whether living in England or America, had a right to the 
benefit of good government, which it was the duty of the 
higher orders or of the few, to provide for them. This, at 
least, is the spirit of an ordinance passed in April, 1643, 
creating a commission to superintend the colonies, called 
the " Lords of Trade and Plantations," composed of the 
Earl of Warwick as Governor-in-chief and Lord High Ad- 
miral, and a council, consisting of five peers and twelve of 
the Commons, who were clothed with plenary powers. 1 The 
commission did not differ essentially from the Board for 
a similar object, created by Charles L, though a different 
spirit governed the action of its members. 

At this period, the local governments were dealing with 
certain opinions that were pronounced to be heresy by the 
Church, and to be faction by the State ; and in doing this, 
in the dawning of a recognition of an inherent right of the 
people to criticise public measures and to enjoy freedom 
in religion, there were seen in America specimens of the 
errors and the intolerance which were characteristic of the 
age. Aggrieved parties appealed for redress from local 
decisions to the Lords of Trade ; charged that the colonies 
were aiming at sovereignty ; and some petitioned for the 
appointment of a general governor. However just their 
cause might have been in the abstract, these parties, in taking 
this course, put themselves in the wrong ; for this was an 
attempt to undermine the common liberty, and was a grave 
offence against posterity. The Governor and Company of 
Massachusetts, in an official communication from the Lords 
Commissioners of the 15th of May, 1646, were summoned 

1 This ordinance was printed in a tract by William Castell in 1644. Henry- 
Vane, John Pym, and Oliver Cromwell were members of this board. 


to answer complaints of this nature. 1 In their reply, they 
aver, that, though removed out of their native country, they 
still had dependence on it, and owed allegiance and subjec- 
tion to it according to their charter ; but said that they had 
not admitted appeals to the Lords of Trade because they 
believed the practice could not stand with the liberty and 
power that had been granted to them, and that they believed it 
would not be allowed by the commissioners because it would 
be destructive to all government. 2 The court also prepared 
an elaborate Declaration, 3 and appointed Edward Winslow 
of Plymouth, who had been imprisoned by the former com- 
mission, to take care of it. This vigilant and capable public 
servant, on arriving in England, found that the faction, in 
the usual manner of unscrupulous partisans, had used false- 
hoods and manufactured pretexts to gain their ends. They 
had cited in print, as fresh proof that the colonists aimed 
at sovereignty, the fact of the New-England Confederacy ; 
and they unblushingly said, that " the Massachusetts united 
with the other colonies to the end they might bathe them- 
selves in blood and feed themselves fat with the lives of 
their brethren." To this Winslow said, in print, " This is a 
notorious slander." 4 And, in relation to the allegation that 

l Hubbard, 503. 2 ibid., 506. 

8 In the Declaration of the General Court, 4th 9, 1646, in reply to Child's re- 
monstrance (Hutchinson's Coll., 199), it is said: "For our government itself, it is 
framed according to our charter, and the fundamental and common laws of Eng- 
land, and carried on according to the same (taking the words of eternal truth and 
righteousness along with them, as that rule by which all kingdoms and jurisdictions 
must render account of every act and administration in the last day), with as 
bare allowance for the disproportion between such an ancient, populous, wealthy 
kingdom, and so poor an infant tliin colony, as common reason can afford." Cita- 
tions to sustain this statement are arranged in two columns. For illustration, a pas- 
sage of Magna Charta is thus set against a " Fundamental of Mass.," as follows: 


All cities and towns shall have their liber- The freemen of every town may dispose 
ties and customs. of their town lands. &c., and may make such 

orders as may be for the well ordering of their 
towns, and may choose their constables and 
other officers. (1) m., 1635. 

* "Hypocrisie Vnmasked," by Edward Winslow, printed in London in 1646. 
I am indebted to Mr. Charles Deane for the use of a copy of this rare work. It was 


this Union was entered into without any permission from 
England, he answered, " If we in America should forbear to 
unite for offence and defence against a common enemy 
(keeping our governments still distinct as we do) till we 
have leave from England, our throats might be all cut before 
the messenger would be half seas through." 1 The manly 
Declaration, together with the sterling principles and the 
personal influence of Winslow, resulted in a substantial 
triumph for the colonies. The position taken by them was 
accepted in a liberal letter by the Commission, and the 
appeals to it taken by the faction were disallowed. 2 Still 
there was a lurking jealousy of popular power in the 
minds of the Lords of Trade. Winslow advised the colo- 
nies, that there were designs maturing against their liber- 
ties ; and an act of parliament, a little later, manifested this 
fact. The Massachusetts General Court, in 1651, address- 
ing this body as " the supreme authority," thanked it for 
stopping appeals to the Commission, and plead earnestly that 
the frame of their government might not be changed, but 
that they might continue to live under magistrates of their 
own choosing, and laws of their own making, not repugnant 
to the laws of England, as they had " governed themselves 
above this twenty-three years." 3 This plea proved effectual, 
and the colonies were allowed, by the celebrated Long Par- 
liament, the boon of neglect from the mother country, or, 
rather, the favor of an acquiescence in their claim to the 
enjoyment of local self-government. 

Nor was the political relation of the colonies changed 
during the rule of Oliver Cromwell, a great hero of the 
Teuton race, who rose to be a connecting link between 
Luther and Washington, all of like stock and intuitions. 4 

written in reply to a tract entitled " Simplicities Defence against Seven headed 
policy." by Samuel Gorton, printed in London. 

1 Winslow' s New-England's Salamander Discovered. London, 1647. 

2 Mass. Coll., ii. 141. The letter was sent to each of the colonies, and was dated 
May 25, 1647. Hubbard, 509. 

8 Hutchinson's Mass., i. 516. 4 Kapp's Life of Steuben, 111. 


Though Cromwell, with wonderful sagacity, dealt roughly 
with the factions which threatened to rend the land ; yet he 
inaugurated a reign of personal liberty and national glory 
such as England never saw before. He was the first of her 
statesmen who had a true sense of the value of the colo- 
nies to the mother country. 1 It did not disturb him that 
the colonists held the Navigation Act to be contrary to their 
charters, as it was contrary to their natural rights ; for he 
saw that with a claim of local government that was some- 
times untenable, yet there existed a devotion to the country 
or the sovereignty that was genuine and serviceable ; and 
where there was this allegiance, he forbore to intermeddle 
with the internal affairs of the colonies. Under his admin- 
istration, New England and Virginia enjoyed free commerce 
and self-government. 2 Among the noblest spirits of that 
time were Robert Sedgwick, Edward Winslow, and Eoger 
Williams, 3 types of the men of America, who counselled 
with Vane and Milton and Cromwell, characters that made 
an indelible mark on their age. They felt and acted as 
countrymen. 4 

There was no interference by the Protector with the Con- 
federation. It was maintained in full vigor. The meetings 
of the commissioners were regularly held. The colonies 
found safety in Union. Their prosperity was increasing. 
Eolations, far too flattering, were circulated of the spread 
of the gospel among the Indians. " It cannot be hid," 
Roger Williams wrote in 1654, " how all England and other 
nations ring with the glorious conversion of the Indians 

1 Hutchinson's Mass., i. 194. 2 Bancroft, i. 230, 446. 

8 Roger Williams, in a letter in 1654, says, in the many discourses he had with 
Cromwell, he " ever expressed a high spirit of Christian love and gentleness." 
Plymouth Records, x. 439. 

4 It was not unusual to designate the colonists and Englishmen as " country- 
men." In " a manifesto of the Lord Protector," printed in 1655, penned by John 
Milton, occurs the phrase " Our countrymen in America; " and in " Wonder Work- 
ing Providence " (73, 217), written by Edward Johnson, of Massachusetts, the phrase 
several times occurs of " our countrymen," applied to Englishmen. 


of New England." 1 And it was said, in an English docu- 
ment of 1656, of the northern parts of America, that they 
gave evidence of great improvements " almost to the world's 
wonder, especially in those parts called New England." 2 
One of its venerated characters, John Eliot, embodied the 
hope, enthusiasm, and political ideal of the time in a tract 
entitled " The Christian Commonwealth," a very crude 
essay, but American in this, that it was imbued with the 
spirit of a new civilization, and was a protest against monar- 
chical power ; it welcomed the triumphs of Cromwell, and 
advocated a sort of commonwealth or republic, in which 
the choice of " superior rulers," as well " as municipal," 
should be " by all the people over whom they were to rule." 3 

The restoration of the monarchy dissipated these visions 
of a commonwealth. On the 25th. of May, 1660, Charles II. 
landed at Dover to ascend the throne of his ancestors. 
This young, rollicking, wanton king made pleasure his main 
pursuit ; but his brother, the Duke of York, subsequently 
James II., a man of a positive character, took pleasure 
in business ; and he pursued his ends with so much ambi- 
tion, boldness, and energy, that soon it was said he was the 
State. Sir Edward Hyde, who had just been created Earl 
of Clarendon, and subsequently was the father-in-law of the 
Duke, was the Lord Chancellor and the chief minister. 
This bland and wily courtier, high church and high tory in 
his principles and of smooth speech, aimed to re-invest roy- 
alty with all its functions. His policy in relation to the 
colonies was definite and steadily pursued though in a fox- 
like manner, during the seven years in which he held power. 
He strove to bring them into a close dependence on the pre- 

This was an epoch in the history of the colonies. In that 
day of dishonor and shame to the people of England, when 
individual and municipal liberties were grossly violated, 

1 Plymouth's Records, x. 439. 2 Thurloe's State Papers, v. 82. 

8 This tract is reprinted in Mass. Hist. Coll., iii. 9. 



when profligacy, public and private, held carnival, it is not 
strange that a colonial polity, which, in its political organi- 
zations and in its educational aims, embodied an aspiration 
of human advancement, was scorned by the reckless rulers 
who wielded the sovereignty. This polity was pronounced 
to be republican. It was held, that, unless the govern- 
ment of the colonies were changed, " they would harden in 
their constitution and grow on nearer to a commonwealth, 
towards which they were, already well nigh ripened." 1 It 
was determined to check this tendency, by centralizing in 
the crown several functions that were exercised by the peo- 
ple ; and to the end, that England, as the mother country, 
might have the full commercial benefit of her colonial pos- 
sessions, it was determined to enforce the mercantile system, 
with its absurd restrictions on individual pursuits, its 
monstrous monopolies and downright robberies. 2 This 
was an attempt to install a rule based on privilege, on the 
ruins of a polity in which were working the elements of 
equality and freedom that are the germinal forces of Ameri- 
can institutions. 

On the 4th of July, 1660, at a court at Whitehall, at which 
were present the King, the Duke of York, and the Lord 
Chancellor, an order was passed constituting ten Lords of 
the Council, or any three or more of them, a board to meet 
twice a week, and receive petitions and papers relating to 
the plantations in America; and, on the 7th of Novem- 
ber, the king, by a commission, created " A Council for 
Foreign Plantations." This council were required by their 
instructions to correspond with the governors of the colonies, 
and to devise means to bring them into a more certain civil 
and uniform government. 3 

The confusions of the time afforded abundant material 
upon which to found complaints against the colonies, and 

1 In Palfrey's " New England " (i. 579) are citations from a paper supposed to 
have been prepared by Clarendon. 

2 Bancroft's History, ii. 43, 44. 8 N.Y. Col. Documents, iii. 30, 32, 36. 


especially against New England. To former grievances 
growing out of the dealing of the authorities with heretics, 
there were added the sad transactions relating to the Quakers, 
and their earnest appeals. Besides, the London merchants 
were disturbed by the enterprise of New England. Its 
prosperity excited envy in the other colonies ; and its " com- 
monwealth notions " supplied a field in which zealous place- 
men might show their zeal for the crown. In addition, these 
colonies harbored the regicides, and were tardy in making 
their acknowledgment of allegiance to Charles II. The 
complaints to the king were numerous. 

The agent of Massachusetts, John Leverett, then in Lon- 
don, advised the General Court of these complaints, and 
of the feeling there in relation to the colonies. 1 Their neglect 
to address the king did not proceed from any design to op- 
pose his authority. Their sound principle of action, during 
the confusions and changes of twenty years, had been to 
follow the sovereignty in every change in the form of its 
government. They acknowledged allegiance to Charles I., 
to the Long Parliament, and .to the Protector ; but, having 
nothing official from the authorities, they waited until they 
saw a prospect of stability. 2 Stimulated by the represen- 
tations of their agents, all the colonies sent addresses to 
the king ; and even the courtiers could not object to the 
language in which they expressed their allegiance. The 
king, in February, 1661, returned to the address of Massa- 
chusetts an answer full of fair words. 

Measures, however, of an ominous character were soon 
adopted. The king was told that the New-England Con- 
federacy " was a war combination, made by the four colonies 
when they had a design to throw off their dependence 
on England and for that purpose." 3 Individuals appeared 
before the Council for Foreign Plantations to testify against 
the colonies. Thomas Breedon, of Dublin, whom traffic 

1 Hutchinson Coll., 322. 2 Hutchinson's Hist., i. 209. 

3 Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc., v. 192. 


had carried to Boston, holding (March, 1661) a printed 
copy of the laws of Massachusetts in his hands, urged that 
the people looked on themselves as an independent State, 
and that there was a necessity of settling the country in a due 
obedience. 1 Samuel Maverick, an old resident of Boston, 
averred that the people of New England were all rebels, 
and he could prove it. 2 One of the counsel asked Leverett 
whether, if the colonies durst, they would not cast off their 
allegiance and subjection to his majesty ; and he replied, 
" They were honest men, who had declared in their appli- 
cation to his majesty the contrary, and therefore he could 
not have such thoughts of them without a breach of char- 
ity." 3 There is no authority to add, that this remark was 
met by the cold jeer with which the unscrupulous are apt 
to greet earnest avowals by those who mean what they say ; 
but there is in history the invention, that the colonists had 
a design of independence which it was not policy then to 
avow. 4 

When the local government and the confederacy were 
thus misrepresented to the Cquncil for Foreign Plantations, 
action was pending that involved vital issues. I need state 
only results. At that time, the jurisdictions of all the colo- 
nies were far from being settled. Connecticut had no char- 
ter ; New Haven had neither patent nor charter ; Plymouth 
had only obtained a patent giving it a title to the soil, and 
Rhode Island had only a patent from parliament. Each 
colony desired to obtain powers of government from the 
crown or the sovereignty. The two colonies of Connecticut 
and Rhode Island were successful in procuring charters, 
which were so liberal that they recognized, substantially, 
the rights and liberties which the people of each enjoyed 
under their voluntary agreements. However gratifying 
these charters were to those colonies, the grant of them 

1 Deposition of Breedon, N.Y. Coll., Doc. 39. 

2 Coll. Maine Hist. Soc., i. 301. Hutchinson Coll., 339. 
4 Chalmers's Annals, 178. 


was not merely a vigorous assertion of sovereignty, but was 
a blow levelled at the confederacy. By an article of the 
league, no two colonies could be united without the con- 
sent of the others ; but no regard was paid by the crown to 
this provision. The colony of Rhode Island had been not 
only repeatedly denied admission to the confederacy, but it 
was looked upon and treated as a pariah colony ; yet it was 
raised to the position of equality with the other colonies. 
No resistance was offered to this exercise of sovereignty ; 
but there was acquiescence in it. The condemnation of 
Eliot's tract entitled "The Christian Commonwealth," by 
the General Court of Massachusetts, on account of its re- 
publican sentiments ; 1 the humble language of the petitions 
of the colonies to the king; their endeavors, in various 
ways, to obtain royal favor, New Haven going so far as 
to order the Navigation Act to be rigidly executed, 2 were 
not certainly manifestations of a spirit of separation, but 
of subordination to the sovereignty. The petition of Con- 
necticut to the king implored him " to be pleased to accept 
that colony, his own colony, a little branch of his 
mighty empire." 

A short time after the grant of the charters of Connecti- 
cut and Rhode Island, the prodigal Charles II. bestowed 
(March 12, 1664) on his brother, the Duke of York, a prin- 
cipality, consisting of a portion of the territory of New 
England and the whole of New Netherland, a territory 
extending from the banks of the Delaware to the St. Croix. 3 
The duke was then Lord High Admiral, and at the head of 
a board created to enforce the Navigation Act. The Coun- 
cil for Foreign Plantations, to put him in possession of his 
American dominions, created a special commission. Eng- 
land and the United Netherlands were at peace, and this 
measure demanded an act of war. It was determined to 
devolve on the same commission the duty of regulating 

1 Mass. Records, iv. ii. 5. This condemnation was May 22, 1661. 

2 Palfrey's New England, ii. 554. 8 Trum'bull's Connecticut, i. 266. 


the internal affairs of New England, a design/which for 
years had been in contemplation. The Duke of York was 
requested to name fit men for this important commission. 
The men selected were Colonel Richard Nichols, a cavalier 
of ability and honor; Sir Robert Carr and George Cart- 
wright, two arrogant and conceited partisans, who had the 
spirit of Persian satraps ; and Samuel Maverick, an original 
settler, who had quarrelled with the local authorities and 
had complained of their acts. 

The commissioners were empowered to reduce New Neth- 
erland. A letter of the king required them to observe the 
condition of his subjects in New England, and make report 
of it to him, that he might decide " either for the better 
repairing of any thing that was amiss, or for the better 
improving and encouraging of what was good;" and espe- 
cially that he might " discourage, and as much as in him 
lay, suppress and utterly extinguish those unreasonable 
jealousies and malicious calumnies which wicked and un- 
just spirits perpetually labor to infuse into the minds of 
men, that his subjects in those parts do not submit to his 
government, but look upon themselves as independent of 
him and his laws." They were also empowered to hear 
and determine complaints in all civil, criminal, and military 
cases, " according to their good and sound discretion." 

On the 23d of July, 1664, a portion of the fleet de- 
signed to reduce New Netherland arrived at Boston, 
the first time ships of the royal navy had been seen in that 
harbor. The commissioners were on board. The local 
authorities proffered them respect, and tendered to them 
the hospitality of a residence. They preferred to stop at 
the house of Thomas Breedon who was again in Boston. 
They exhibited to the Governor and Council their commis- 
sion ; applied for a small force of militia to serve in their 
expedition against the Dutch ; and then, receiving the 
assurance that the request should be attended to, proceeded 
with the fleet on their mission. In September, Manhat- 


tan capitulated, and thenceforth New Netherland was called 
New York. In October, the Swedes on the Delaware sur- 
rendered ; and then the flag of England floated along the 
whole line of the Atlantic coast from New France to Florida, 
and the original colonies attained a geographical unity. 

Meanwhile the General Court of Massachusetts delib- 
erated on the very grave matter of the commission. The 
debates as to the course that ought to be pursued were 
uncommonly earnest. The reverend elders who were in 
town were called in to give their advice ; a day of fasting 
and prayer was appointed, and a petition to the king was 
adopted. On the receipt of the intelligence of the appoint- 
ment of the commission, the General Court (May 18) had 
put the charter in the hands of a committee to keep it 
" secret and safe ; >):l and it resolved (Aug. 3), God assist- 
ing, to bear faith and true allegiance to his majesty, and to 
adhere to the privileges of the patent, " so dearly obtained 
and so long enjoyed by undoubted right in the sight of God 
and man." 2 To do this, they would be obliged to confront 
at their own doors a commission clothed with the functions 
of determining appeals which they had successfully contested 
with the Long Parliament. If this commission was valid, 
its discretion would be installed above the local law, and 
thus would supersede the charter. In fact, its creation was 
an unwarrantable exercise of the prerogative, and, as a 
precedent, dangerous to English liberties, and a violation 
of colonial rights. 

In February, 1665, three of the commissioners returned 
to Boston, Colonel Nichols remaining with the fleet, 
when they proceeded to assert their authority. Their func- 
tions were recognized at Plymouth, and appeals were made 
to them ; also at Rhode Island, which, grateful for a char- 
ter, gave them in addition large tokens of respect. At 
Connecticut, where there was like joy for a similar favor, 
they met with a hearty welcome and recognition of their 

1 Mass. Records, iv. 102. 2 ibid., 118. 


authority. Gratified with their reception, they returned 
to Boston, prepared to deal with the most influential colony 
in America, hoping, they said, " that the submission and 
condescension of the other colonies to his majesty's designs 
would have abated the refractoriness of this colony which 
they much feared." 1 The magistrates at Plymouth, how- 
ever, repelled in a spirited manner certain allegations 
brought against the Confederacy. In their answer to the 
commissioners, they said, " The league between the four colo- 
nies was not with any intent (that we ever heard of) to 
cast off our dependence upon England, a thing which we 
utterly abhor, entreating your honors to believe us, for we 
speak as in the presence of God." 2 

A full board Nichols having rejoined his associates 
assembled in Boston on the 2d of May. It was the eve of the 
general election. The event was rendered uncommonly 
exciting by the novel course of the commissioners, who, 
in the previous February, sent letters to gentlemen in the 
country, inviting them and their neighbors non-freemen 
as well as others to be present at this election, and thus 
be " both ear and eye witnesses " of his majesty's favor, 
saying that this was the best way to prevent misapprehen- 
sions. 3 On that day, they attended an informal meeting of 
several magistrates and deputies, and submitted to them 
four papers containing extracts from their instructions, and 
a fifth paper, written by them, on matters connected with 
the commission. They first protested against certain rumors 
and sayings of the time, and they proved by undeniable ar- 
gument, they said, that the commission, instead of having 
" been made under an old hedge," was issued by the king, 
was commended in letters by the king and the lord chan- 
cellor, and was brought over by three of the king's frigates ; 
and, in the conclusion, they enlarged on the reasons that 

1 Report of the Commissioners is in Hutchinson Coll., 412. 

2 Answer of the General Court of Plymouth, May 4, 1665, Hutchinson's Hist. 
Mass., i. 235. 8 Mass. Records, iv. part ii. 174. 


occasioned the commission, and the wisdom of the mea- 
sure. 1 

On the 3d of May, Richard Bellingham was elected gov- 
ernor, and Francis Willonghby deputy governor, and they 
were sworn into office ; and among the assistants who took 
the oath on that day were Simon Bradstreet, Daniel Gookins, 
Richard Russell, Thomas Danforth, and John Leverett, 
all honored names in the history of the colony. 2 The Gen- 
eral Court met and recognized the reception of the five papers 
presented by the commissioners. On the 4th, a conference 
was held between the court and the commissioners, in which 
the court desired to know all his majesty had commanded 
to be declared to them, that they might have their whole work 
before them ; to which the commissioners replied, that, when 
they received an answer to their letter, they would then pre- 
sent the Court with more work. On the next day (May 5), 
the Court answered the five papers. They met the subject 
of the malicious reports, by saying, that it was extremely 
difficult, if not impossible, to trace those wild and absurd 
rumors to their first fountain, every reporter commonly con- 
tributing some addition to the stream ; but said that any 
who scandalized the commissioners deserved a severe pun- 
ishment. They treated of other things, but were silent 
on the vital point of the validity of the commission. 3 In 
the subsequent correspondence, continuing more than two 
weeks, the arrogance of power and the scorn of popular 
rights, on the part of the royal commissioners, were met by 
the General Court in a spirit of extreme jealousy of im- 
perilled liberty. As this was going on, the commissioners 
prepared to hear an appeal in the case of a notorious char- 
acter who had been justly banished from the colony. They 
had commanded all officers, civil and military, to refrain 
from molesting him, and thus interfered with the course of 
justice. The warrant issued by the commissioners in this 
case was declared by the court to be an infringement of 

1 Mass. Records, iv. part ii. 186. 2 ibid., 142. 3 ibid., 188. 


their patent. A conference was held (May 11) between a 
committee of the court and the commissioners. The latter 
were asked whether a jury would pass on the cases which 
they intended to hear, and their reply was in the negative ; 
that they sat as a court of oyer and terminer. The com- 
mittee urged, that, by the charter, the colonists were entitled 
to trial by jury ; and that it would be a great addition to 
their former sorrows if they were obliged " to submit them- 
selves, their lives and estates, and their liberties, far dearer 
than them both, to another authority whose rule was their 
own discretion." l At length the four commissioners came 
into the General Court, when Nichols, as their spokesman, 
said, " We are a court by his majesty's authority : tell 
us plainly and truly whether you will submit to the com- 
mission without any shuffling." The court calmly re- 
joined, that it could not see the grounds why it should be 
called to resolve such a question. The commissioners then 
imperiously demanded a positive answer to their question ; 
when the court replied (May 22), " We humbly conceive it 
is beyond our line to declare our sense of the power, intent, 
or purpose of your commission. It is enough to acquaint 
you what we conceive is granted to us by his majesty's royal 
charter." 2 On the next day (May 23), the commissioners 
advised the assembly, that on the morrow, at nine o'clock 
in the morning, at the house of Captain Thomas Breedon, 
they would sit as a board to hear the case of Thomas Deane 
and others, plaintiffs, against the governor and company and 
Joshua Scottow, defendants. 3 The court immediately framed 
a declaration, and sent a copy of it to the commissioners. 4 As 
they did not recede, a herald, an hour before the time set 
for the hearing, appeared before Breedon's house, in Hano- 
ver Street, and also a hundred or more of the inhabitants. A 
trumpet was sounded ; and, by order of the General Court, 
declaration was made to all the people of the colony in his 
majesty's name, and by the authority committed to them by 

i Mass. Records, iv. part ii. 197. 2 Ibid., 207. 3 Ibid., 208. * ibid., 209. 


the royal charter, that, in observance of their duty to God 
and to his majesty, and the trust committed to them, they 
could not consent unto, nor give their approbation of, the 
proceedings of the commissioners ; neither could they coun- 
tenance any who should be their abettors. 1 This declara- 
tion was repeated in a similar form in two other places 
in the town. The trumpet gave no uncertain sound. 
This action was in the spirit of the historic influence of 
local self-government, in union with allegiance to the sover- 
eignty. It was Liberty claiming its rights under the Law. 

The commissioners, thus effectually thwarted, sent (May 24) 
two papers to the court. In one, they characterized the action 
of the court as opposition to the sovereignty, and referred 
the whole case to his majesty's wisdom. The other was a 
commentary, under twenty-six heads, on the book of gen- 
eral laws and liberties of the colony. I select only their 
dealing with self-government and union. They criticised 
the use in these laws of the terms " state," " council of state," 
and " commonwealth," and desired " that these " indecent " 
expressions might be changed. They arraigned the con- 
federation as illegal, averring that there was no right 
conferred by the charter " to incorporate with the other 
colonies, nor to exercise any power by that association : 
both belonged to the king's prerogative." 2 On leaving what 
to them was an inglorious field, the commissioners dis- 
charged a Parthian arrow, in the threat, that those who had 
contested their power would meet " the punishment which 
so many concerned in the late rebellion had met with in 
England." 3 In their report to the king, they arraigned 
in severe terms the colony as being commonwealth-like ; and, 
after stating that it had a college, they remarked, that it was 
to be feared " that this college might afford as many schismat- 
ics in the church, and the corporation as many rebels to the 
king, as formerly they have done, if not timely prevented." 4 

1 Mass. Records, iv. part ii. 210. 2 Ibid., 213. 

8 Chalmers, 387. * New- York Coll., Doc. iv. 112. 


The committee, 1 who had guided the action of the General 
Court, prepared a narrative of their proceedings, which 
occupies over a hundred pages of the Colonial Records. 
This embodied the documents connected with the case, 
among which are the addresses which the Court sent to the 
King. In one of them, the General Court stated in a few 
words, their view of their Charter, of the limitations of their 
rights under it, and of the required test of loyalty as 
"subjects." They claimed "full and absolute power of 
governing all the people of this place," according to such 
laws as they should make, " being not repugnant to the 
laws of England ; " and avowed that they had " above thirty 
years enjoyed the aforesaid power and privilege of govern- 
ment within themselves, as their undoubted right in the sight 
of God and man." They said, " We keep ourselves within 
our line, and meddle not with matters abroad. A just 
dependence upon and subjection to your majesty, according 
to our Charter, it is far from our hearts to disacknowledge. 
We so highly prize your favorable aspect, though at this 
great distance, as we would gladly do any thing that is in 
our power to purchase a continuance of it. ... It is a great 
unhappiness to be reduced to so hard a case as to have no 
other testimony of our subjection and loyalty offered us but 
this ; viz., to destroy our own being, which nature teaches 
us to preserve ; or to yield up our liberties, which are far 
dearer to us than our lives, and which, had we any fear of 
being deprived of, we had never wandered from our fathers' 
house into these ends of the earth." 2 The report justifies 

l On the 3d of May, 1665, the General Court ordered that Captain Gookin, Mr. 
Thomas Danforth, Mr. Edward Collins, Mr. William Parks, and Lieutenant Hopestill 
Foster, be a committee to consider of the matters presented by the Commissioners 
to the Court, and to consider what action was necessary. On the same day, Mr. 
Simon Bradstreet, Captain Daniel Gookin, Mr. Thomas Danforth, Captain Edward 
Johnson, Mr. Edward Jackson, Captain Richard Waldren, and Lieutenant Hopestill 
Foster, were appointed " to consider of all the papers delivered into this court by 
Colonel Richard Nichols, and the rest of his majesty's commissioners, and to pre- 
sent a full and meet answer unto the whole to this whole court." Mass. Records, 
iv. (2), 146. 2 Mass. Records, iv. (2), 169-172. 


the formation of the Confederacy in the following strain : 
" Considering that they were several colonies under one 
king, and came from their native country for one and the 
same end, and were here scattered at a great distance 
amongst the wild savages in a vast wilderness, had no walled 
towns or garrisons of soldiers for their defence, they appre- 
hended that the least they could do was to enter into a 
league of amity and union one with another, engaging, in 
case of any unjust and fresh assault made upon any part 
by the natives, jointly to assist each other as the matter 
should require : this being the end of their confederating, 
as the articles signed by the general courts of all the colo- 
nies, in May, 1643, will plainly demonstrate, to the end, 
that, as our distance of place one from another rendered us 
weak, and laid us open to their rage and violence, so our 
union might be as well to them a terror as to us strength : 
and, through the goodness of God, we have hitherto had 
large experience of the great good that by this confederation 
hath redounded, not only to all his majesty's subjects here 
planted, but even to the natives themselves, it having been 
a means to prevent much trouble and bloodshed among 
themselves ; so that, although since that war some of them 
have sundry times made their attempts and put us to a con- 
siderable charge and trouble several ways, yet no massacre 
hath been among us from that day to this, blessed be God 
for it." l After this statement of the great fact of general 
security as a justification of the union, the report indignantly 
repelled the charge of having invaded the prerogative, aver- 
ring that ,to call the union usurping authority " was con- 
trary to the light of reason, that allows all whose journey's 
end is the same, and whose way lies together, to combine 
for their mutual help in all things common and just, with- 
out the least suspicion of taking upon them any usurped 
authority, whether it be by land or sea, which, therefore, 

1 Mass. Records, iv. (2), 231. 


made it seem to be their special design to disunite the colo- 
nies, and so to bring us unto ruin." l 

This remarkable state-paper exhibits the ability and the 
statesmanship of the colony in a favorable light. These brief 
citations show the clearness of its thought, the purity of its 
style, and the strength of its argument. It constitutes a 
clean political record. The action it narrates was not aimed 
against the sovereignty, but against an undeniable stretch 
of power by the administration which superseded, in many 
respects, the authority and powers granted by the charter ; 
and that action was prosecuted by the General Court, not in 
an obstinate or a perverse spirit, but in a modest and steady 
adherence to what they believed, and what really were, their 
just rights and privileges. 2 There appears in this action 
an appreciation of the value of the right to make the lex loci, 
and of its proper sphere as subordinate to the supreme 
authority, while there is an earnest intention to fulfil every 
just obligation to the sovereignty. The position undoubt- 
edly is sound, that parts of a nation ought not to be suffered 
to form alliances with each other for rebellious or even for 
ambitious purposes ; but the vindication of such a step is 
complete when the facts show that it is taken in the spirit 
of the primal duty of self-preservation. This was the case of 
the New-England Confederacy. 

The simple statement of the powers granted to the Com- 
mission is enough to condemn it. A writer, bitter against the 
republicanism of Massachusetts, though quick to see what 
touched England, remarks, that the Commission was liable 
to great objection, " because it might have been extended to 
affect English liberties, which no prerogative of the crown 
can abridge." 3 Another, of the same political school, writing 
in a historic spirit, judged that the local government " would 
not be thought culpable for refusing entirely to submit to the 
absolute authority of the commissions, which must have 

l Mass. Records, iv. (2), 234. 2 Hutchinson's Hist., ii. 256. 

8 Chalmers's Annals, 388. 


superseded tlieir charter ; and, if this authority had been 
once admitted, they would have found it very difficult ever 
after to have ejected it." 1 This condemnation of the Com- 
mission is just ; and it is no less just to say, that the cour- 
age, dignity, and intelligence of the prominent actors in 
these scenes entitle them to be enrolled among the pioneer 
defenders of American liberty. 

The Confederacy, before the crown granted the charter to 
Connecticut, had passed through periods of serious dissen- 
sion. The commissioners of one or more of the colonies had 
threatened to dissolve the union ; and some of the provisions 
proved so unsatisfactory that amendments were proposed. 
No year, however, passed without a meeting of the commis- 
sioners. But the Confederacy lingered, rather than lived, 
after the blow it received by the incorporation of New Haven 
with Connecticut. Attempts were made to infuse into it 
new vigor by a renewal of the articles, and in the crisis of 
King Philip's War it proved to be of great usefulness ; 
but the meetings of the commissioners became more irregu- 
lar, and it disappeared when the charters of the colonies 
were declared to be vacated. Tims the Confederacy fell 
with the fall of local self-government. 2 

1 Hutchinson's Hist, i. 251. 

2 The following is a list of the meetings of the commissioners: 

Boston, Sept. 7,1643. 

Hartford, Sept. 5,1644. 

Boston, July 28, 1645. 

Boston, Sept. 11, 1645. 

New Haven, Sept. 9,1646. 

Boston, July 26, 1647. 

Plymouth, Sept. 7,1648. 

Boston, July 23, 1649. 

Hartford, Sept. 5, 1650. 

New Haven, Sept. 4,1651. 

Plymouth, Sept. 2, 1652. 

Boston, April 19, 1653. 

Boston, May 31, 1658. 

Boston, Sept. 1, 1653. 
Charlestown, June 17, 1654. 

Hartford, Sept. 7, 1654. 

New Haven, Sept. 5, 1655. 

Plymouth, Sept. 4, 1656. 

Boston, Sept. 3, 1657. 

Boston, Sept. 2, 1658. 

Hartford, Sept. 1, 1659. 

New Haven, Sept. 6, 1660. 

Plymouth, Sept. 5, 1661. 

Boston, Sept. 4,1662. 

Boston, Sept. 3, 1663. 

Hartford, Sept. 1, 1664. 

Hartford, Sept. 15, 1667. 

Boston, June 1, 1G70. 

Plymouth, Sept. 5,1672. 

Hartford, Aug. 21, 1673. 

Boston, Nov. 2, 1675. 

Hartford, Sept. 5, 1678. 

Plymouth, Mar. 20, 1679. 

Boston, Aug. 25, 1679. 

, Sept. 6,1681. 

Hartford, Sept. 5, 1684. 

I have placed in this list an informal meeting, held on the 17th of June, 1654, at 


This combination of local government and of union was 
made before the colonists had attained to just conceptions 
of what should be the basis of such a union. They were 
imbued with a spirit of jealousy concerning their local gov- 
ernments, not merely in reference to an interference by the 
supreme authority, but as to eacli other. The fraternal 
spirit between them as communities was feeble. The larger 
colony of Massachusetts evinced an overbearing spirit to- 
wards its neighbors ; Connecticut, when it got the power, 
assumed jurisdiction over New Haven in so autocratic a 
manner as to deepen in the people of the latter a sense 
of unprovoked wrong ; 1 and the three colonies had more of 
rebuke than of love for Rhode Island. 2 Conviction as to 
fundamental principles is a necessary condition to a super- 
structure of law ; and this had not been reached. The 
powers reserved to each jurisdiction proved impracticable, 
and the provisions to promote the common welfare were 
crude. Notwithstanding these vital defects, the service 
which the Confederacy rendered was never forgotten : it 
was referred to in every period of the colonial age, and in 
seasons of peril there was a call for its revival. The em- 

Charlestown, by the commissioners from Connecticut and New Haven, duly author- 
ized to meet Robert Sedgwick and John Leverett, who held a commission from 
Oliver Cromwell, to consult with the commissioners of the four colonies in relation 
to an expedition against the Dutch. Thurloe's State Papers, ii. 419. This is an 
interesting record. It was a custom for the commissioners to supply each colony 
with a copy of the records of their proceedings. Winthrop, ii. 246. The larger 
part of the copy belonging to Massachusetts was destroyed by fire in 1747. Two 
copies were preserved, those of Connecticut and Plymouth. The latter is in the office 
of the Secretary of State of Massachusetts. Hazard printed, in 1794, from this 
copy, the records contained in his " Collections." In 1859, they Avere again printed 
in two noble quarto volumes, by the authority of the State of Massachusetts, and 
edited by a skilful chirographer, Mr. David Pulsifer. Besides valuable illustrations 
from the Massachusetts Archives, this reprint contains records of several meet- 
ings which are omitted in the Plymouth copy; viz., those of September, 1652; 
August, 1673; September, 1678; August, 1679; and September, 1684. They are re- 
printed from the fourth volume of the " Colonial Records of Connecticut," in which 
they were first printed by their editor, Mr. J. Hammond Trumbull. Neither contain 
the records preserved in Thurloe's " State Papers." 

1 Palfrey's New England, ii. 546. 

2 The royal commissioners said that Rhode Island was generally hated by the 
other colonies. Report in Hutchinson's Coll., 412. 



bodiment of the idea of union was imperfect ; but the 
principle of the equality of the distinct jurisdictions, the 
inviolability of their local governments, and the aim of pro- 
viding one system of law, securing to the people of all the 
colonies their rights, became fundamentals of a republican 

When such was the situation of the colonies in relation 
to each other, and when the condition of political science 
was low, is it strange that the colonists held theories and 
took positions inconsistent with their professions of alle- 
giance ? The coinage of money, exemption from certain 
forms of law, and refusing appeals to England, were of 
this character. But a disposition to meet every just re- 
quirement of the crown is evinced in their state-papers. 
In a short time they gave up objectionable points, desisted 
from coining, issued writs in his majesty's name, took the 
oath of supremacy ; and even the appellate jurisdiction of 
the King in council came to be looked upon rather as a pro- 
tection than a grievance. 1 The present to the King of a 
ship-load of masts for the royal navy, and a general Con- 
tribution to supply the West-India fleet with provisions, 
elicited from him a gracious acknowledgment. Nor was 
the exercise of the powers of making war and peace incon- 
sistent with professions of allegiance, or an evidence of an 
assumption of sovereignty. The East-India Company, even 
when it exercised these powers of war and peace without 
the direct control of the crown, was not considered a sover- 
eignty, and " still less can it be so considered since it has 
been subjected to that control." 2 The New-England Con- 
federacy exercised these powers in subordination to the 
supreme power ; it steadily declined to form alliances with 
the Dutch ; and its vindication by the General Court of 
Massachusetts shows conclusively that the people did not 

1 Story's Commentaries, i. 163. See, on theories of allegiance, Hutchinson's 
Hist., i. 251-253. 

2 Wheaton's Elements of International Law, 27, Lawrence's edition. 




regard their action as an assumption of pretensions incon- 
sistent with their condition as dependent colonies. Indeed, 
the idea that four small colonies, with a population of 
twenty-four thousand, formed this league to throw off their 
dependence on England, or entertained the design twenty 
years later, when their population might have been more 
than doubled, is absurd. They averred that they abhorred 
such a design. If, neglecting such disclaimers, the minis- 
ters of the crown, backed by the crown-lawyers, chose to 
base their policy on the misrepresentations of a faction, it 
was their folly and the beginning of a great blunder. 1 

1 In treating the subject of the New-England Confederacy, I have followed con- 
temporary authorities. The early annalists took substantial!}' the same view of its 
spirit and objects. Bradford, in the " History of Plymouth Plantation," written 
from 1630 to 1650, and first printed in 1856, assigns (416), as the immediate cause of 
its formation, the hostile attitude of the Indians; Johnson, in the " Wonder Working 
Providence," written about 1650, and printed in 1654, gives (182) the same cause; 
Winthrop, in his " History of New England from 1630 to 1649," which remained in 
manuscript until 1790, contains (ii. 101) a full account of its origin, written in the 
spirit in which Bradford wrote, and adds to the causes the distractions in England ; 
and Morton, in the " New England's Memorial," first printed in 1669, copies (227, 
Davis's edition) from the Bradford MS., adding to the cause of Indian plottings, 
"divers other and more weighty reasons." Hubbard prepared, before 1682, his 
" General History of New England," which remained in manuscript until 1815. He 
copied nearly word for word from the Winthrop MS., adding a few remarks of his own. 
Ogilby, in his "America," printed in 1671, uses Johnson's words. To pass over 
other writers, Hutchinson, in the first volume of his " History of Massachusetts," 
printed in 1765, states the facts as given in the Hubbard MS. (i. 126); adding that 
the Confederacy was countenanced by the authorities in England, and that notice of 
it was taken, without exception, in the letters of Charles II. Wynne, in his " Gen- 
eral History of the British Empire," printed in 1770 in London, remarks (i. 69) that 
in this league the colonists " erected themselves into a sort of republican govern- 
ment, though they acknowledged themselves subject to a limited monarchy." Gra- 
hame, in his " History of the United States," printed in London in 1836 (i. 268), 
remarks, in reference to the reproach cast on the colonists of " arrogating the rights 
of sovereignty in this transaction," that it was " a measure that could hardly be 
avoided," and that it was regarded neither " by themselves nor by their English rulers 
as indicating pretensions unsuitable to their condition." 

A different view was taken of this league by Chalmers, in his volume entitled 
" Political Annals of the present United Colonies," printed in London in 1780. He 
says that the New-England Confederacy (178) "established a complete svstem of 
absolute sovereignty." Robertson, in his " History of America," printed in England 
in 1788, says (Harper's edition, 446) that in this confederacy the colonists consid- 
ered themselves as " possessing all the rights of sovereignty, and free from the con- 
trol of any superior power." John Quincy Adams, in his discourse " on the New 
England Confederacy," of May 19, 1843, states that the league was "the exercise 


I cannot but think that much error has crept into Ameri- 
can history by not keeping in view the difference between 
opposition to the measures of an administration and resist- 
ance to the supreme power of the empire or to the sover- 
eignty. The immigrants, in spite of what they had suffered 
in their native land, bore towards it a noble affection, re- 
ceiving its stripes as from a mother. This affection is seen 
in the feeling exhibited by the Pilgrims when in Holland, 
who grieved at living in a place not under the protection 
of England, and at the thought that there was danger they 
might lose their language and even their name. It is seen 
in the tenderness of Higginson's adieu to his native land, 
when he exclaimed, " Farewell dear England ! Farewell 
the church of God in England, and all the Christian friends 
there." It is seen in the parting address of the Winthrop 
company, who said they went with tears in their eyes, and 
sadness in their hearts. This feeling was expressed in a 
touching discourse spoken in New England and printed in 
London : u There is no land that claims our name but Eng- 
land: we are distinguished from all the nations in the 
world by the name English. There is no potentate breath- 
ing that we call our dread sovereign but King Charles ; 
nor laws of any land have civilized us but England's. 
There is no nation that calls us countrymen but the Eng- 
lish. Brethren ! did we not there draw our first breath ? 
Did not the sun first shine there upon our heads ? Did not 
that land first bear us, even that pleasant island, but for 
sin I would say that garden of the Lord, that paradise ? 
And how have they always listened after our welfare, ebbing 
and flowing in their affections with us ? How do they (I 
mean all this while multitudes of well-affected persons 

of sovereign power in its highest attributes;" but remarks, that "the compact of 
the New England colonies, without the sanction of their sovereign, was yet not 
against him." Palfrey, in his " History of New England " (i. 630), printed in 1858, 
says " the Confederation was no less than an act of absolute sovereignty on the part 
of the contracting States." Bancroft, in his " History of the United States " (i. 121), 
coincides with the views of the early historians. 


there) talk of New England with delight! How much 
nearer heaven do some of their charities account this land 
than any other place they hear of in the world ! Such is 
their good opinion of us. How have some among them 
desired to die, if they might not be vouchsafed to live in 
this land ? And when sometimes a New-England man re- 
turns thither, how is he looked upon, looked after, received, 
entertained, the ground he walks upon beloved for his 
sake, and the house held the better where he is ? How 
are his words listened to, laid up, and related frequently 
when he is gone ? Neither is any love or kindness held too 
much for such a man." 1 

This outburst of affection was for England as their native 
land, or the British Empire, which was regarded as the 
protector of the local liberties. Warm attachment to both 
were elements of the historic life that was unfolding. 2 
Happily the growth of this life was marked, and may be 
traced. Even the foreshadowing of America is an interest- 
ing feature of its early annals. It was in ancient times a 
speculation in which philosophy indulged, that great lands 
were to be discovered. The poet saw them in his visions. 
The definite thought of Strabo of the existence of two more 
inhabited lands ; Plato's fable of the sunken island of At- 
lantis ; the " venient annis " of Seneca, 3 foretelling that 

1 New England's Teares for Old England's Feares, by William Hooker. 1641. 

2 John Adams (Works, x. 282), in alluding to the "habitual affection for Eng- 
land " in the colonial age, says, in a letter written in 1818, that " no affection could be 
more sincere." Samuel Adams, in a letter written to Charles Thomson, in 1774 
(Life of Warren, 232), says, " Would to God all, even our enemies, knew the warm 
attachment we have for Great Britain! " 

8 The verses of Seneca, in the Antwerp edition, are : 

"Venient annis 
Secula seris ; quibua Ooeanus 
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens 
Pateat tellus, Tiphysque nouos 
Detegat orbee, nee sit terris 
Vltima Thule." 

Seneca's verses were quoted in the first work of note in the English language 
on America, the "Decades of the West Indies," translated from the Spanish by 
Richard Eden, and printed in London in 1555. It is cited in a communication by 


another Typhis would discover new worlds ; and other say- 
ings, were collected and mused upon. Columbus knew 
of them, and turned them to good account. They served to 
inspire the soul of the navigator, and " to convince mon- 
archs of the expediency of a costly enterprise." 

Thus America, like the unknown quantity in algebra, 
helped to solve the problem of its own existence. As the 

Francesco Lopes, and is thus rendered : " There shall comme worldes in late 
yeeres, in the which the ocean shall unlose the bondes of thynges and a great lande 
shall appeare. Also Typhis (that is, nauigation) shall discover new worlds and Thyle 
shall not be the furthest lande." The remark is in the margin: "Island was in 
owlde time cauled Thyle as somme thinke." On Mercator's map of the world of 
1569, the names "Islant" and "Thule" denote different parts of one island. On 
Behaine's famous globe of 1492 is " Ysland." This, at that time, was " the farthest 
lande." Typhis was the helmsman of the " Argo" in the expedition of the golden 
fleece. The poet in vision saw a future navigator, who, in the adventurous spirit of 
Typhis, would " discover new worlds." The words of Plato, Strabo, Seneca, and 
others (Cosmos, ii. 261, Bohn's edition), served to persuade monarchs to engage in 
expensive voyages. 

Willes, in the preface to his edition of " Eden," printed in 1577, after dwelling on 
Plato's story of the " Island of Athlantides," quotes the verses of Seneca, which he 
renders as follows : 

" In late yeeres newe worldes shalbe founde, 
And newe landes shal then appeare on the grounde. 

When Typhis nauigation newe worlds shal fynde out, 
Then shal not Thyle for last be left out. 

For then shal the ocean dissolue his large bandes, 
And shewe foorth neiue worldes, regions, and landes." 

Seneca's verses were quoted by Lord Bacon in his " Essays," printed in 1597, and 
termed " A prophecy of the discovery of America ; " and by Acosta, in his " History 
of the Indies." In the translation of the latter from the Spanish, printed in London 
in 1604, it is (38) thus rendered: 

" An age shall come, ere ages ende, 
Blessedly strange and strangely blest, 

When our Sea farre and neere or 'prest, 
His shoare shall farther yet extend. 

Descryed then shall a large Land be, 
By this profound seas navigation. 
An other World, an other Nation, 
All men shall then discovered see. 

THULE accounted heretofore 
The worldes extreme, the Northerne bound 
Shall be when Southwest parts be found, 
A neerer Isle, a neighbour shoare." 

Seneca's lines were placed by Irving on the titlepage of his " Life and Voyages 
of Christopher Columbus," printed in 1828. 


time drew near for its discovery, the modern Florentine, 
Pulci, wrote, as rendered by Prescott, 

" His bark 

The daring mariner shall urge far o'er 
The western wave, a smooth and level plane. 

Men shall descry another hemisphere, 

Since to one common centre all things tend; 

So earth, by curious mystery divine 

Well balanced, hangs amidst the starry spheres. 

At our Antipodes are cities, states, 

And thronged empires, ne'er divined of yore. 

But see ! the sun speeds on his western path 

To glad the nations with expected light." 

At the period when the wonders made known by Colum- 
bus and his companions kindled enthusiasm, the ancient 
sayings were copied into the earliest accounts of America, 
and called testimonies and prophecies. For more than a 
century, the general exultation had been for such achieve- 
ments as conquest, dominion, or the discovery of gold. 
During the period of extended colonization in North Amer- 
ica, the exultation rose into a nobler strain. The relations 
through the press were of population and wealth unexam- 
pled in the annals of the world. Combined with these mo- 
tives was the high aim, to use a term contained in charters 
and a succession of papers, of " The Propagation of the 
Gospel." There then commenced a new series of poetic 
visions and of philosophic speculations, prefiguring the 
future of America ; and often by the best minds of the age. 
Their burden was not of conquest, gold, or dominion ; but 
it was of human advancement. The great Swedish states- 
man, Oxenstiern, averred that the colonization of America 
would prove beneficial to Europe, to the civilized world, 
and to Christendom. Herbert wrote, 

" Religion stands on tiptoe in our land, 
Ready to pass to the American strand." * 

l The lines of Herbert were first published in li The Temple," in 1633. The 
vice-chancellor objected to their publication; but, on consenting, said, "I hope the 
world will not take him to be an inspired prophet." British Poets, 247, Little & 


And, thirty years later, Cowley sang to his countrymen, 

" Your rising glory you shall view: 
Wit, learning, virtue, discipline of war, 
Shall for protection to your world repair, 
And fix a long illustrious empire there. 

Late destiny shall high exalt your reign, 

Whose pomp no crowds of slaves, a needless train, 

Nor gold (the rabble's idol) shall support, 

Like Montezume's or Guanapaci's court; 

But such true grandeur as old Rome maintained, 

When fortune was a slave, and virtue reigned." l 

Brown's edition. These lines were quoted by R. B. (Robert Burton) in " The Eng- 
lish Empire in America" (1685), p. 106, as "the prophecy of the pious, learned, and 
Honorable Mr. George Herbert, Orator to the University of Cambridge." They were 
early read in New England. Proceedings Mass. Hist. Soc., 1866-7, 461, 464. 

l "Book of Plants," printed in 1668, in Latin. Rendered into English by N. 
Tate and others in 1711, fourth edition. These lines were circulated freely in the 
American newspapers (Essex Gazette, Feb. 21) of 1775, as a prophecy of America. 



1684 TO 1690. 

THE New-England Confederacy recognized the equality of 
the colonies that were parties to it, and the inviolability 
of their local governments ; but the provisions designed to 
promote the common welfare were a crude embodiment of 
the union element. The Confederacy rendered valuable 
service in peace and in war ; and it lasted until the local 
governments were overthrown by the supreme power, and 
their functions were consolidated into a despotism. This 
prepared the way for revolution and for inter-colonial cor- 
respondence. A common peril occasioned a general con- 

These tendencies to union are seen forty-six years (1689) 
after the formation of the New-England Confederacy. The 
general maps of North America at that period assign to 
France the vast territory beginning at the northern bounda- 
ries of New England, and extending along the country 
watered by the St. Lawrence River, the great lakes, and the 
Mississippi River, which had lately been discovered and ex- 
plored. The claim of France included Acadia, Canada, Hud- 
son's Bay, Newfoundland, one half of Maine, of Vermont, 
and of New York, and the Valley of the Mississippi as far as 
the Rio Bravo del Norte. 1 The English colonies were de- 
lineated as occupying a narrow belt of land on the Atlantic 

1 Bancroft (iii. 175) gives a view of the French claims, and (iii. 177) states the 
population of the continent. 


coast, between Florida on the south and Acadia on the 
north. 1 French statesmen were carrying out a magnificent 
scheme to secure dominion in North America. Yet, not- 
withstanding all the stimulus the French cabinet had given 
to discovery and colonization, the French census of 1688 
for the North- American continent, gave a population of only 
eleven thousand two hundred and fifty-nine. The English 
Government rather depressed than encouraged the colo- 
nists ; and yet they had reached a population of two hun- 
dred thousand. 

Twelve of the thirteen original colonies were then (1688) 
founded. Contemporary descriptions, printed in separate 
tracts, or in general compilations, serve to show their prog- 
ress, relative importance, and reputation. Carolina was 
already famed for its product of rice ; but, including the 
great territory subsequently called Georgia, it contained only 
about eight thousand Europeans. They were divided be- 
tween the flourishing colony of South Carolina, of which 

1 I have stated above (p. 34) that a plate of a map of America, engraved in 
1606, was used in English publications down to 1659. In 1671, John Ogilby, "his 
Majesty's Cosmographer " and "Geographic Printer," published at London his 
"America: being the latest and most accurate description of the New World," &c., 
in a folio volume. It has what is called "a new and accurate map of America," 
which has the names JST. Plymouth, New England, New York, Maryland, Vir- 
ginia, Carolina, and Florida ; but does not delineate their boundaries. The greater 
part of the map is nearly a fac simile of the beautifully engraved map of N. Vis- 
scher. The ornaments on both are the same. Both have opposite the Virginia 
coast " Mare Virginium." Ogilby's work contains several local maps, as of Vir- 
ginia, New York, &c. The next elaborate English publication on the geography 
of America was published by Richard Blome in 1682. It has a long titlepage, com- 
mencing " Cosmography and Geography in two parts," &c., from " Monsieur Sanson." 
This volume (in folio) has a map entitled "A new mapp of America Septentrionale, 
Designed by Monsieur Sanson, Geographer to the French King and rendered into 
English and illustrated by Richard Blome. By his majesty's special command." 
It has New England, Maryland, Virginia,. Carolina, and Florida. The fourth edi- 
tion wa published in 1693, and has the same map. The rivers in the region of 
Florida are similar to the Sanson maps of 1669 and 1657. The Mississippi River is 
not laid down, though at that time (1693) maps of it had been printed. The com- 
pilations of Robert Burton (1685) and of Robert Morden (1700) have only small 
maps. The map nearest to the date of 1690, of value, which I have met, is that of 
De Lisle (1700), the celebrated French geographer. This is what it purports to be, 
a new map. It has the Mississippi River and delineations of New England, New 
York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Carolina, and Florida. 


Charleston was the chief settlement, and the settlements 
in the county of Albemarle, which were the beginnings of 
the colony of North Carolina. 1 Carolina was receiving large 
accessions of the persecuted Pluguenots. The splendid do- 
main of Virginia, celebrated for its crops of tobacco, had a 
population of over fifty thousand, who lived on plantations 
far apart from each other ; the nearest approach to a town 
being a cluster of buildings located around " The State 
House " at Jamestown. They had neither printing-press, 
public school, nor college. It was written of Virginia, that, 
" as it came out of the hands of God, it was certainly one of 
the best countries in the world ; " but as it respected well- 
built towns, well-educated children, and an industrious and 
thriving people, it was certainly " one of the poorest, misera- 
blest, and worst countries in all America that was inhabited 
by Christians." 2 In Maryland, also, the people did not 
gather in towns. This colony invited settlers by promising 
" toleration in religion to all who professed faith in Christ." 3 
Pennsylvania had been founded only six years. The large 
influence of William Penn and the mild virtues of Quaker- 
ism attracted emigrants. The city of Philadelphia was 
described as increasing rapidly, and as a place scarcely to 
be paralleled for a favorable location. New Jersey, then 
divided into East and West New Jersey, and its neighbors, 
" The Delaware Counties," were characterized as having 
air, soil, ports, and harbors not inferior to those of any other 
colony. Several towns had been founded, which were said 
to be in a flourishing condition. These four prosperous 
colonies had reached a population of forty-seven thousand. 
The colony of New York contained twenty thousand inhabi- 
tants. The city was described as having five hundred houses, 

1 "At a general court that was held the 28th of November, 1694, the list of taxa- 
bles did not exceed 787." Williamson's North Carolina, i. 144. 

2 1 Mass. Hist. Coll., v. 125. An account of Virginia written about 1696. 

8 This was said in " The English Empire in America " by (R. B.) Robert Bur- 
ton. This compilation contains Herbert's prophecy. See p. 70. 


built of fair Dutch brick, and as being famous for pleasure 
and great business activity. The New-England colonies had 
a population of seventy-five thousand. Plymouth continued 
to be a backward colony ; Connecticut and Rhode Island 
had become models of peace, progress, and self-government ; 
Massachusetts had purchased the Province of Maine, and 
was rapidly growing in importance ; New Hampshire, con- 
stituted in 1680 an independent colony, had but four towns. 1 
These colonies enjoyed the educational influences of the 
town, the public school, the college, the congregational 
church, the public meeting, and the general assembly. The 
spirit of commercial enterprise was so active, and the cause 
of religion, as viewed by earnest souls, seemed in comparison 
to be so languid, that the generation who were about leaving 
the stage mourned over the departing glory of New Eng- 
land, and prophesied that she had seen her best days. But 
it can now be seen, that, in the inner life of religion, the 
original spirit was only accepting new forms. New England 
outwardly was moving forward with a steady step towards 
wealth and power, with freedom as the enlivening principle 
of its pursuits, and the accumulation of property, landed 
and personal, as the invigorating nerve of its enterprise. 2 
The twelve colonies, viewed as a whole, were characterized 
as having " arrived to a figure so considerable as might 
attract the emulation of neighboring potentates, the golden 
Peru hardly affording so great a treasure to the Catholic 
crown as their most flourishing plantations produce to the 
crown of England." 3 

This glance at the twelve colonies, "The English Em- 
pire in America," 4 serves to show their relative impor- 

1 Bancroft (ii. 452) has a careful estimate of the population of each of the twelve 
colonies in 1688. He estimates the total at 200,000. Chalmers (Hist, of Revolt, 
i. 217) estimates it at 250,000. 

2 The words are in " Chalmers's Annals." 

3 Blome, in the preface to his " Present state of His Majesty's Isles and Territo- 
ries in America." 1687. 

* This is the title of a volume printed in London in 1685. 


tance at the interesting period of the Revolution of 1688. 
They were applying the principle of local self-government. 
It was, under their situation, a necessity. It was not prac- 
ticable for the parliament to legislate on the various little 
wants of each colony, to care for the making of roads, the 
building of churches, and the maintenance of schools, or to 
frame a remedy for the inconveniences or evils that a change 
of circumstances daily brought forth. 1 All this was pro- 
vided for under the general powers of government conveyed 
by the crown to each colony, either directly, as in the char- 
ters which were granted to Massachusetts, Connecticut, and 
Rhode Island, or through the medium of the proprietors of 
the soil, as in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jer- 
sey, and the two Carolinas, or by instructions sent by the 
crown to the governors, as in Virginia, New Hampshire, 
and New York, which were called royal provinces. Each 
colony manifested a similar spirit of freedom in exercising 
these powers. In each the popular will was expressed 
through the representative assembly. Each adopted so 
much of the English statute law, and claimed the benefit 
of so much of the common law, as seemed to be suited to 
the condition of its inhabitants. While all recognized their 
subordination to the acts of parliament which expressly 
named the colonies, and bound them as integral parts of the 
empire in a general system framed for all, and for the bene- 
fit of all, they also recognized the common law, which 
united the colonies to the parent State by the general ties 
of allegiance and dependency. 2 In this spirit each com- 
munity framed its local law. Each was strongly attached 
to the form which it had adopted, and thought it to be 
the best. 3 In each there was a State without nobles, and 

1 Chalmers's Annals, 45. 

2 Chalmers (Annals, 140) says, " A colony . . . may abrogate that part of the com- 
mon law which is unsuitable to its new situation; may repeal the statute law wherein 
it is inapplicable to its condition." See Story's Commentaries, i. 148. 

8 Andros reported in 1678, " I do not know that there is any superiority of one 
colony over another, but all [are] independent, though [they] generally give place to 


a Church without a bishop. In each the people were 
governed by magistrates whom they selected, and by the 
laws which they framed. 1 Thus organized, the . twelve 
colonies contained the elements of our country as it is 
to-day. 2 

This self-government was regarded by the supreme power 
as a growtli of republicanism, as it really was. To meet 
and to check this element, the Clarendon ministry (1660 to 
1667), as has been stated, devised the scheme of bringing 
the colonies more under the control of the prerogative ; and 
this continued to be the policy of the Government. On the 
fall of Clarendon, the administration known as the Cabal 
wielded, for six years (1667 to 1673), the sovereignty. The 
Council for Foreign Plantations was enlarged (March 20, 
1671), and the Duke of York and several high personages 
were created members. The Danby ministry succeeded the 
Cabal (1673 to 1679), when the Cavaliers obtained com- 
plete power. During this period, Charles II. gave Virginia 
away to two of his courtiers for thirty-one years, 3 and he re- 
newed (1674) the Duke of York's patent. He dissolved 
(Dec. 24, 1674) the Council for Foreign Plantations, and 
appointed (March 12, 1675) a committee of the Privy 
Council to consider matters connected with the American 
colonies. They were directed to sit once a week, and report 
their proceedings to the council. This arrangement con- 
tinued not only till the close of the reign of Charles, but 
through that of his successor. 4 

The subject of American affairs occupied the attention of 
the Government largely during this period. The several 

and are most influenced by the Massachusetts, both in State and religion. I do 
not find but the generality of the magistrates and people are well affected to the 
king and kingdom; but most, knowing no other government than their own, think 
it best, and are wedded to and oppiniate for it." 

1 Rufus Choate (Life and Writings, i. 379) uses these terms in describing 
Geneva. 2 Bancroft, ii. 453. 8 Burk's Virginia, App., 44. 

4 The Introduction to volume three of the " Documents relating to the Colonial 
History of New York " has an account of the boards of trade and plantations. 


administrations shrunk from a decisive interference with the 
internal affairs of the colonies. When it was judged that 
events required bold action, the debates in the Privy Coun- 
cil were earnest. " The question was considered thoroughly 
whether the council should introduce there the same gov- 
ernment that was established in England, or should subject 
the colonists to the rule of a governor and council, who 
should have all authority in their hands, without being 
obliged to observe any other laws than those which should 
be prescribed in England." In this debate, one of the 
members, the Marquis of Halifax, maintained " with vehe- 
mence, that there was no reason to doubt, that the same 
laws under which the people of England lived ought only 
to be established in a country composed of Englishmen. 
He dwelt strongly on this point, and did not omit other 
reasons to prove that absolute government is neither so 
happy nor so secure as that which is tempered by laws, and 
which bounds the authority of a prince. He exaggerated 
the inconvenience of sovereign power, and declared squarely 
that he could not agree to live under a king who should 
have it in his power to take when he pleased the money 
which he [Halifax] had in his pocket." This view was 
opposed by all the other ministers. They held that his 
majesty " could and ought to govern countries so far re- 
moved from England in the manner which should appear 
to him the most proper to maintain the country in the 
state in which it is, and to increase still more its strength 
and riches. It was resolved that the governor and council 
should not be obliged to call assemblies from the country 
to make taxes and to regulate other important matters, but 
that they should do what they should judge proper, render- 
ing an account only to his Britannic majesty." 1 This was 
the opinion of the Duke of York. He held that the colo- 
nies did not need general assemblies, and ought not to have 

1 Barillon to Louis XIV. London, Dec. 7, 1684, in Fox's James II. App. vii. 


them. 1 This view prevailed. It was -determined to create 
a government by a general governor and council. Before 
this conclusion had been reached, it was resolved to enforce 
rigidly the Navigation Act. Charles II. was carrying out 
this policy at the time of his deatli (1685). His successor, 
James II., with a bold hand, executed the scheme of gov- 
erning the colonies which lie had done much to inaugurate. 
Its opponent in the Privy Council, the Marquis of Halifax, 
was regarded as unfit to hold power, and was dismissed 
from office. It is a curious fact that, at so early a period, a 
question relating to American liberty, and even to American 
taxation, was considered to be a test of principles, friendly 
or adverse to arbitrary power in England. In truth, 
Charles James Fox remarks, " Among the several contro- 
versies which have arisen, there is no other wherein the 
natural rights of man on the one hand, and the authority 
of artificial institutions on the other," are " so fairly put in 
issue." 2 

This scheme, involving a change in the basis of the local 
governments of the colonies, pursued with more or less vigor 
during the reigns of Charles and James, caused a world of 
anxiety and confusion, and was the key to their political 
history at that period. Despotic power, like the wolf in the 
fable, stood at the head-springs of the current of American 
liberty, and charged those who were drinking below with 
foiling the waters. The royal tactics were of a low order. 
Officials sought pretexts on which to frame indictments 
against the colonies for violations of their charters, to be 
used in the courts, that a foregone conclusion might be 
carried out under the forms of justice. Edward Randolph 
was one of them. Busy, vigorous, and unscrupulous, he 
seemed to the colonists to be the originator of their trou- 
bles, and was called " the evil genius of New England." 
But, as he went back and forth across the Atlantic, laden with 

1 New-York Col. Doc., iii. 230. 

2 History of James II., by Charles James Fox (London edition), 60. 


calumnies and falsehoods 1 about the colonists, he was sim- 
ply doing the work of " his gracious master," the Duke of 
York, and of the set of profligates who then wielded the 
supreme power. Their arbitrary scheme was the proximate 
cause of the political troubles. The colonial agents in Lon- 
don were first advised that great designs were maturing 
against colonial liberties. 2 At length, they were officially 
informed, that his majesty had concluded to unite under one 
government " all the English territories in America from 
Delaware Bay to Nova Scotia." In the general consolidation 
of the northern colonies that followed, the people of Rhode 
Island and of Connecticut, who welcomed and recognized the 
authority of the royal commissioners in 1665, fared no better 
than the people of Massachusetts, who refused to submit to 
that illegal commission. The colonies of New Jersey and 
Delaware, like those of New England, were obliged to meet 
writs of quo tvarranto against their charters. Nor did Penn- 
sylvania, Virginia, and the two Carolinas escape from an 
arbitrary interference with their internal affairs. In all the 
colonies popular functions were absorbed by the crown. It 
appointed local magistrates and county commissioners. It 
assumed the minute detail of administration. It conferred 
on a " governor and council " the function of legislation 
and taxation. Town-meetings for political purposes were 
forbidden. The representative assemblies were either abro- 
gated or restricted. The object avowed in official papers 
was " to bring the colonies to a united and nearer depend- 
ence on the crown." 3 This line of proceeding was an 

1 Randolph, in a communication to the committee of the Privy Council (1676), 
states, that the inhabitants of the colonies of New Plymouth, Connecticut, New- 
Hampshire, and Maine, were in favor of " settling a general government for the 
whole country," and were "desirous of submitting to a general governor;" on 
which Hutchinson (Coll., 490) says, "Not one man in a hundred throughout the 
governments then desired it." 

2 John Knowles, in a letter dated April 16, 1674 (Hutchinson's Coll., 447), ad- 
vised Governor Leverett that there was " a great design on foot for the regulation of 
New England." 

8 Randolph's letter to the committee of the Privy Council, Aug. 18, 1685 ; in Rhode 


attempt to carry out a theory, regardless of the habits and 
temper of the people ; and that theory was absolutism. 

This exercise of absolute power roused a spirit of opposi- 
tion in all the colonies. They did not act in concert. They 
did not put forth the republican theory as the basis of their 
action. On the contrary, their prejudices in favor of monar- 
chy often appear in their utterances. 1 They found themselves 
subjected to fitful, irregular, and vexatious stretches of 
power. Their aim, in their defence of their rights and liber- 
ties, was ever distinct and practicable : for it was simply the 
defence of a right to mould the local polity. Their claim, 
that taxes should be imposed by their representative assem- 
blies, was maintained with great force. A noble argument 
in behalf of New Jersey, and against an illegal tax, is based 
on principles, and even contains phrases, similar to those of 
the revolutionary era. It maintained that " it was a funda- 
mental in their constitution and government, that the King 
of England could not justly take his subjects' goods without 
their consent." 2 

The tyranny of James II. had fallen upon his English 
and his transatlantic subjects alike : neither were of a tem- 
per tamely to submit to it, and both were delighted to wel- 
come the advent of William and Mary. 3 When the report 
reached Boston that the Prince of Orange had landed in 
England, an uprising against the existing rule was planned 
and consummated. The general-governor, Sir Edmund An- 

Island Col. Records, iii. 178. He says that he had served three writs upon the 
proprietors of East and West New Jersey and Delaware. An Order of Council of 
July 15, 1685, named five quo warrantos. 

1 Governor Hinckly, of Plymouth, in a letter to the Lords of the Privy Council, 
April 24, 1685 (4 Mass. Hist. Coll., v. 135), in describing the proclamation in that 
colony of James II. says, " I have not observed the like assembly together amongst 
us, as if all were ambitiously desirous of demonstrating the natural and innate prin- 
ciple of loyalty engraven on their hearts to the crown of England." 

2 The great argument of New Jersey of 1680 against an arbitrary tax imposed 
by Andros, the governor of New York, under the commission of the Duke of York, 
is in Smith's " New Jersey," 117. 

3 The words in the text are those of Viscount Bury, in the "Exodus of the 
Western Nations," i. 391, 396, printed in 1865. 



dros, and some of his associates, were imprisoned ; and a 
provisional government, in the name of William and Mary, 
was established. The venerable Simon Bradstreet, formerly 
the governor, was the first name in the commission. The 
revolution -extended to the Carolinas. In all the colonies, 
their right of local government had been violated. In all, 
William and Mary were joyfully proclaimed. 

There was then a period of confusion and of transition. 
In six of the colonies, the people, either under old forms of 
law, or acting by methods arising out of the necessities of 
their situation, in the name of William and Mary, designated 
their governors ; namely, in Massachusetts, Simon Bradstreet, 
eighty-seven years of age, and identified with every period 
of the history of the colony ; in Plymouth, Thomas Hinckley ; 
in Connecticut, Robert Treat ; in Rhode Island, Henry Bull, 
an Antinomian ; in New York, Jacob Leisler as lieutenant- 
governor ; and in South Carolina, Seth Sothel as governor. 
In New Jersey and in North Carolina so much confusion 
prevailed that there were hardly regular governments. In 
Pennsylvania, the government continued under the old 
form. In Maryland, the popular party ruled through a 
convention. In Virginia, the royal governor being in Eng- 
land, the government was in the hands of the council, of 
which the president was Nathaniel Bacon, a popular favor- 
ite. New Hampshire, on the petition of its towns, was 
re-united to Massachusetts until the pleasure of the king 
should be known. The people were not unanimous in their 
action. A party held, that, as this resumption of the old 
governments was done without the sanction of the supreme 
authority, it was in opposition to and in contempt of the 
crown, and was really rebellion. 1 To this it was replied, 
that the proceedings were in the name and for the cause 
of William and Mary. 2 It was a period of angry crimina- 

1 New- York Col. Doc., iii. 352. 

2 It is said, in " The Revolution in New England Justified," that the people, in 
seizing and securing the governor, did no more than was done in England, in Hull, 
Dover, and Plymouth. 


tion, of hot words, and of rash acts. If the people's right 
to election was fiercely contested, it was ably and zealously 
defended. The determined spirit of the popular party was 
illustrated in a significant declaration of Governor Treat, 
of Connecticut. When the validity of his government was 
challenged, he said, " that the people had put him in, and 
he had ventured all he had above his shoulders on this 
account, and therefore he would maintain it." 1 Such was 
the political situation when the colonies received the Cir- 
cular Letter of the Privy Council, announcing the accession 
of William and Mary, directing their proclamation, and sig- 
nifying their pleasure, " that all men being in offices of 
government should so continue until their majesty's fur- 
ther pleasure be known." 2 

No colony had suffered more from arbitrary power than 
New York. The popular party here found a champion in 
Jacob Leisler. He was a native of Frankfort, in Germany, 
and emigrated as a soldier to New Amsterdam in 1660. Four 
years afterwards, he was a successful merchant. In 1683, 
he was appointed one of the commissioners of a court of 
admiralty. 3 On several occasions, he evinced a bold spirit 
in acting against the set who were in power, and, by order 
of Andros, was imprisoned, preferring the jail to the aban- 
donment of what he considered a principle. 4 He was the 
captain of one of the five military companies which composed 
the defensive force of New York. When the people over- 
threw the government established by James II., they flocked 
to Leisler's door. At their request, he placed himself at 
their head, and took command at the fort ; and subsequently 
accepted an appointment of lieutenant-governor from u a 
committee of safety," composed of delegates from the sev- 

1 Bulkeley's " Will of Doom," Conn. Col. Records, iii. 460. 

2 This Circular Letter of the Privy Council was dated Feb. 19, 1689, and, in 
relation to persons holding office, is nearly a copy of the circular sent to the colo- 
nies on the accession of James II. 

3 New-York Doc. Hist., 21: Introductory.' 

* Hoffman, in Sparks's Am. Biography, 2d series, iii. 191. 


eral towns and the city. Under tins authority, with the 
committee as his council, he wielded the government. He 
took possession of the fort at Albany. His education was 
limited, and he was rough and passionate ; but he had cour- 
age, enterprise, and energy, and, under strong impulses, 
acted generously and honestly. His zeal for William and 
Mary rose into enthusiasm. 

Leisler had to meet an active, powerful, and virulent 
party, who, not content with hurling at him the foulest 
words, defied his authority. He promptly addressed letters 
to the other colonies, informing them with great particu- 
larity of the proceedings of the friends of William and Mary 
in New York, and sending to them copies of the declarations 
and other papers which the occasion had elicited. 1 I need 
only state, that, in relating the difficulties he had to en- 
counter, he declared that lie intended to exercise power no 
longer than until he should receive orders from the Prince 
of Orange ; and that, meantime, if he could receive the 
advice and approbation of the adherents of the Prince, and 
" if the colony would join with the whole country," it would 
discourage the adverse party, who were daily sowing sedi- 
tion. 2 This was an invitation extended to the colonies to 
correspond on political subjects, and to unite in support of 
a common cause. 

These letters elicited from several of the colonies a cor- 
dial response. The General Court of Connecticut advised 
Leisler to keep the fort well manned ; to suffer no Roman 
Catholic to enter it armed or without arms ; and it sent 
two agents to Albany. 3 On their arrival at this place, 
they wrote to Leisler in the warmest terms of praise, ex- 
tolling his " loyalty, courage, prudence, and charge," and 
recognizing his good service to God, King William, and the 

1 New- York Col. Doc., iii. 594. 

2 Leisler's first letter to the Committee of Safety at Boston is dated June 4, 1689. 
See his letter to Connecticut, June 16, 1689. Doc. Hist, of New York, ii. 3 and 5. 

3 Conn. Col. Records, iii. 468. 


country in the preservation of the Pro-testant religion. 1 The 
letters of Governor Bradstreet are cautious, but friendly. 
The Assembly of Maryland solicited a " friendly and neigh- 
borly" correspondence with the northern colonies at all 
times, as occasion should require, concerning all matters 
conducive in any way to their majesties' service and the 
welfare of their subjects. 2 " We return you," Leisler wrote 
to the Maryland Assembly, " many thanks for your friendly 
and neighborly advice, and embrace with all our hearts your 
offers of a mutual and amicable correspondence with you, 
which we shall labor to keep and preserve with you as we 
do with Boston and Connecticut Colony." He also thanked 
the Colony of Massachusetts for their care and sympathy. 
Though it was said, that the adherents of James in several 
colonies were a cabal 3 against the Prince of Orange, yet 
they proved to be few in numbers and without power ; the 
body of the people in all the colonies being warmly in favor 
of the Revolution. Hence unusual political action was not 
necessary to promote this cause, and no measure embodying 
the idea of union grew out of the suggestion of Leisler. 
The earliest inter-colonial correspondence of a political 
nature, however, serves to show, that, underlying the law 
of diversity which marked the development of American so- 
ciety into distinct communities, there was the powerful 
element of political affinity. 

At that interesting period, France was pursuing with 
vigor the scheme for securing dominion in America. The 
designs of this power had been regarded with jealousy, from 
the first settlement of the colonies. Henceforth, for seventy 
years, the endeavors to carry out these designs became the 
fertile source of alarm and peril to the colonists, and the 
great spur to political and military effort. 

1 Letter of Nathan Gold and James Fitch, June 26, 1689. 

2 Mass. Archives, xxxv. 60. 

3 Coodie, of Maryland, wrote to Leisler, Nov. 26, 1689, " I believe our great men 
of this province, some of yours, and New England, were a cabal, and held a great 
correspondence against the Protestant interest." New- York Doc. Hist, ii. 43. 


The earliest result tending towards union which the 
French scheme produced took place when Charles II. was 
a pensioner of Louis XIV. The dominion to which France 
aspired necessarily involved encroachment on the hunting- 
grounds of the Indians. This had been resisted with great 
intrepidity and success by the powerful confederacy of the 
Five Nations. Some of the tribes comprising this league 
had* assaulted the English settlements. The war-paths of 
their braves extended as far south as the Carolinas, in the 
west to the Mississippi, and in the east into Maine. As the 
signs indicated to them a severer struggle than ever with the 
French, the Five Nations desired peace with the English, 
and made this known through Governor Dongan of New 
York. He invited a conference of English officials at Al- 
bany to meet the chiefs of these tribes. It was held in July, 
1684. Four colonies Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, 
and New York 1 were represented. Lord Howard, gov- 
ernor of Virginia, in the name of the English, said that he 
was willing to make a chain, so that they might all be 
brethren and great King Charles's children, which should 
be strong and lasting to the world's end. Cadiane, a Mo- 
hawk chief, said : " We now plant a tree whose top will 
reach the sun, and its branches spread far abroad, so that 
it shall be seen afar off, and we shall shelter ourselves 
under it, and live in peace without molestation." 2 In this 

1 There were present " The Right Hon. Francis Lord Howard, Baron of Effing- 
ham, Governor General of Virginia," also acting for Maryland; Colonel Thomas 
Dongan, governor of New York, and the magistrates of Albany; Stephanus Van 
Cortlandt, as the agent of Massachusetts ; and several Sachems. 

2 Colden's Five Nations, ii. 49. A few days after the conference, the Maquese 
Sachems, in a speech addressed to the Massachusetts Agent, thanked their " brethren 
of Boston " for the proposals made to them three years before; expressed gratifica- 
tion that the covenant had been kept so fast on both sides, and said that the chain 
must be kept clean and bright. "We all, namely, our governor, the governor 
of Virginia and the Massachusetts Colony, and Maquese, are in one covenant. 
We do plant here a great tree of peace, whose branches spread as far as the 
Massachusetts Colony, Virginia, Maryland, and all that are in friendship with us, 
and do live in peace, unity, and tranquillity, under the shade of said tree." Mass. 
Archives, xxx. 303. 


conference, the North and the South met for the first time, 
and deliberated for the attainment of a common object. A 
treaty was formed, which embraced territory extending from 
the St. Croix to Albemarle. 1 Governor Dongan gave the 
warriors the arms of the Duke of York to affix to their 
castles. The act was interpreted by the Indians to be a 
pledge, on the part of the English King, to give them aid in 
their wars against the French ; but it was intended by the 
English to be a recognition of the sovereignty of Great 

The designs of the French, evinced in building boats, 
collecting materials for war, and disputing the right of the 
English to trade at certain places, grew more alarming from 
year to year, while the British Government continued to be 
indifferent to the issue. " If the French," the governor of 
New York earnestly wrote, " have all that they pretend to 
have discovered in these parts, the King of England will 
not have a hundred miles from the sea anywhere." 2 After 
the accession of William and Mary, hostilities were declared 
between France and England, which extended to America ; 
and thus began the first inter-colonial war. The French 
soon planned an invasion of Boston and New York. The 
colonies were left to their own exertions for their defence. 

When the combination of the French and Indians was 
alarming, Governor Bradstreet naturally reverted to the 
" old union and confederation," and, in letters to several 
of the governors, suggested its revival. The proposal was 
favorably received by Governor Treat, of Connecticut, in a 
reply imbued with a fraternal and patriotic spirit. 3 But, 

1 Bancroft, ii. 255. 

2 New- York Col. Hist. Doc., iii. 476. The paper in which this sentence occurs is 
dated Sept. 8, 1687. 

3 Governor Treat, in a letter dated July 31, 1689, acknowledged a letter from Brad- 
street of the 17th, in which Treat says, " I' hope we shall be willing, in the season of 
it, to revive the ancient confederation upon just terms and articles, holding forth a 
right consideration of our State compared with the other colonies." He says the 
General Court had made no choice of any commissioners. 


though there were conferences between the New-England 
colonies, the confederacy was not revived. In New York, 
the factions kept up a bitter and fierce strife. The oppo- 
nents of Leisler maintained an organization against his 
authority. He had severe provocation and a difficult role. 
Making, however, every allowance, his arbitrary and passion- 
ate course, not merely with his opponents but with others, 
evinced great lack of administrative ability. In marked 
contrast was the bearing of Bradstreet, who was obliged to 
hear the statements of both sides as to affairs in New York. 
In writing of them, he urged " all true Englishmen to lay 
aside their private animosities and intestine discords, and to 
unite against the common enemy." 1 

When there was this feud, the country was startled by 
the intelligence of an invasion of New York by the French 
and Indians. On the 8th of February, 1690, a war-party, 
who had come stealthily from Canada, entered the open 
gates of the town of Schenectady, when it was snowing, 
and broke the stillness of midnight with the terrible yell 
and whoop of the savages. Men, women, and children, for 
two hours, were mercilessly butchered. Their dwellings 
were burned. The whole town was sacked. The spectacle 
presented all the horrid features of the Indian mode of war- 
fare. A few inhabitants, escaping from the tomahawk or 
scalping-knife, waded in the deep snow to Albany, and, 
running through the place about five in the morning, roused 
the inhabitants from their beds by crying the dreadful news. 
The intelligence flew through the colonies. It awakened 
the keenest sympathy. A popular demand then rose for 
action against the French. Among the incidents of this 
time of panic and passion was a visit of condolence by 
chiefs of the Five Nations at Albany. " Brethren," they 

1 Letter, dated Boston, Feb. 3, 1689-90, to Captain Bull, " Here are some gen- 
tlemen come with letters from New York, by the return of whom the Council write 
to Captain Leisler, and labor to lay before him the mischief," &c. Mass. Archives, 
xxxv. 212. 


said, " we come with tears in our eyes to bemoan the blood 
shed at Schenectady by the perfidious French. Brethren, 
be patient. This disaster is an affliction which has fallen 
from heaven upon us. The sun, which hath been cloudy, 
will shine again with his pleasant beams. Take courage, 
courage," repeating the words. " Send to New England. 
Tell them what has happened. They will lend us a helping 

Schenectady was the Fort Sumter of that day. The 
event had a political effect. It shamed the factions in New 
York at least into a truce. It roused a spirit of patriotism. 
The governor of Massachusetts urged, in letters to the other 
colonies, the necessity for immediate action to provide for 
the common defence. He advised Leisler of his readiness 
to engage in whatever might promote his majesty's service, 
praying that God might give success to the great under- 
takings then on foot in Europe for the defence and advance 
of the Protestant interest, and so smile on the endeavors 
for the recovery of the lost peace of the colonies. 1 " 'Tis 
pity," he wrote to the governor of Plymouth, " but that in 
this time of action New- England should be found doing 
something towards their own safety and defence." 2 The 
expedition under Sir William Phips, undertaken by Massa- 
chusetts alone, attests that he reflected the spirit of the 

The General Court, in view of organizing a joint effort 
of the colonies, proposed to hold a congress. The call for 
a meeting is dated the 19th of March, 1690. It relates, 
that their majesties' subjects had been invaded by the 
French and Indians ; that many of the colonists had been 
barbarously murdered, and were in danger of greater mis- 

1 Letter, dated March 15, 1690. Mass. Archives, xxxvi. 202. 

2 4th Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll , v. 231. Letter to Thomas Hinckley, March 11, 
1690. The governor says, " Twas midnight . . . when those poor, divided, secure 
wretches were surprised; . . . sixty of them were butchered, of whom Lieutenant 
Talmage and four men were of Captain Bull's company, besides five of said com- 
pany carried captive." 


chiefs ; and it proposed, as a measure of prevention, that 
the neighboring colonies, and Virginia, Maryland, and the 
parts adjacent, should be invited to meet at New York, and 
conclude on suitable methods for assisting each other for 
the safety of the whole land. The governor of New York 
was desired to transmit this invitation to the southern 
colonies. 1 

Such was the first call for a general congress in America. 
It is free from narrowness. It is liberal in its spirit, sim- 
ple in its terms, and comprehensive in its object. It invited 
all the English colonies to send delegates to meet in assem- 
bly, and deliberate for the common good. In view of the 
greatness of the power that threatened them, it was urged 
that their united strength would be found little enough 
against the common enemy. 2 

The call elicited from several colonies interesting replies. 

1 The original order of the General Court is in the following terms: "Their 
majesty's subjects in these northern plantations of America, having of late been 
invaded by the French and Indians, and many of them barbarously murdered and 
are in great danger of further mischiefs: For the prevention whereof, it is by this 
court thought necessary that letters be written to the several governors of the neigh- 
boring colonies, desiring them to appoint commissioners to meet at New York on the 
last Monday of April next, then to advise and conclude on suitable methods in 
assisting each other for the safety of the whole land. And that the governor of New 
York be desired to signify the same to Virginia, Maryland, and parts adjacent." 
Voted in the affirmative by the magistrates. Isa. Addington, Secy. The Deputies 
consent thereunto. Daniel Epps, per order. 19th March, 1689-90. Mass. Archives, 
xxxv. 321. In the reply to this invitation by Governor Bull, dated April 18, he names 
" York " as the place of- the meeting, which shows that the invitation was sent to 
him agreeably to the order. Yet, on the Massachusetts Records, the place is written 
plainly " Rhode Island." Trumbull (Hist. Conn., i. 391) says the invitation was to 
meet at Rhode Island. Holmes (Annals) and Hollister (Hist. Conn., i. 330) say the 
meeting was held in Rhode Island. 

Leisler's Circular Letter addressed to the governors is dated April 2, 1690. New- 
York Doc. Hist., ii. 211. It is mainly devoted to the situation of the French army. 
It states as the object of the proposed meeting to conclude what might conduce most 
for the king's interest, the welfare of the provinces, &c. It was sent, dated April 3, 
to Massachusetts and Plymouth, and appears on the face to be an original proposi- 
tion. Bradstreet had looked to the "ancient union and confederation" (Letter,- 
July 17, 1689), and this call was an extension of this idea. In a letter to Hinckley, 
dated April 11, 1690, Bradstreet says of the proposed congress, " the governor of 
New York doth accept that proposal." 4th Mass. Hist. Coll., v. 239. 

2 Bradstreet, in his letter to Hinckley, April 11, 1690. 


Governor Hinckley, of Plymouth, entered with zeal into 
the measure, and, though the General Court was not in 
session, appointed a commissioner. The Quaker-governor 
of Rhode Island, Henry Bull, replied in an excellent spirit. 
He said, that the people of that colony, expecting every 
day a visit of the enemy by sea, kept continual watch and 
ward, night and day, and were building shelters for such 
great artillery as they had ; and, though the time was too 
short to convene the assembly for the appointment of com- 
missioners, he promised the aid of that colony to the utmost 
of its ability to resist the French and Indians. 1 The 
head of the convention of Maryland wrote, that it was the 
design of the assembly to send arms and men to aid in the 
general defence ; though the great distance between Mary- 
land and New York, the unsettled state of their constitu- 
tions, and the uncertainty respecting his majesty's pleasure 
respecting the province, so discouraged their councils, that 
they could come to no definite conclusion on this point; 
they had, however, sent two agents to the conference to act 
in their name, and report to the convention the proceedings 
of the meeting. 2 President Bacon, of Virginia, replied, that 
the proposition would require the action of the assembly, 
and that nothing would be done until the arrival of the daily 
expected governor. 3 The replies to the invitation were cor- 

The commissioners of four colonies met at New York. 
The delegates from Massachusetts carried a commission 
empowering them to fix upon such methods as should be 
judged most suitable to provide for the general defence and 
security, and for subduing the common enemy. 4 The de- 

1 Letter, dated Newport, April 18, 1690. Mass. Archives, xxxvi. 16. 

2 New- York Doc. Hist., ii. 249. 3 Ibid. 

4 The delegates from Massachusetts were William Stoughton and Samuel Sewall. 
Their commission, signed by Simon Bradstreet, is dated April 15, 1690. Mass. 
Archives, xxxvi. 5. Connecticut was represented by Nathaniel Gold and William 
Pitkin ; Plymouth, by John Walley ; and New York, by Leisler and P. D. Lanoy, the 
mayor of the city. 


liberations led to a unanimous result. On the 1st of May, 
an agreement was signed by the delegates, in behalf of the 
five colonies, to raise a force of eight hundred and fifty-five 
men for the strengthening of Albany, and, " by the help of 
Almighty God, subduing the French and Indian enemies." 
It was agreed, that the lieutenant-governor of New York 
should name the commander of this force ; that it should 
not be employed on any other service without the consent 
of the five colonies ; and that the officers should be required 
to preserve among their men good order, punish vice, keep 
the sabbath, and maintain the worship of God. 1 No propo- 
sition appears to have been entertained for a permanent 
organization. Indeed, the government of Massachusetts 
said that they called the congress " to meet a conjuncture, 
until more express commands should be received from the 

1 The following is copied from the Massachusetts Archives, xxxvi. 47: 

New York, Primo May, 1690. 

At a meeting of the Commissioners of the Province of New York and the Colonies of the 
Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut. 

It is concluded as their unanimous result, that, in the present expedition for the strength- 
ening of Albany, the pursuing, and, by help of Almighty God, subduing the French and 
Indian enemies continuing in hostility against their majesties, that each of the colonies afore- 
said shall provide and furnish the under-mentioned proportions of soldiers, with answerable 
provisions, at their own charge, to be sent with all speed, viz. : 

By New York, four hundred 400 

By the Massachusetts Colony, one hundred and sixty 160 

By Plymouth Colony, sixty 60 

By Connecticut Colony, one hundred thirty-five 135 

By Maryland, by promise 100 

In all, eight hundred fifty-five 855 

Further agreed that the major be appointed by the lieutenant-governor of New York, and 
the next captain to be appointed by the colonies of the Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Con- 

That all plunder and captures (if any happen) shall be divided to the officers and soldiers 
according to the custom of war. 

That all matters of great concernment be directed and ordered by the council of war, con- 
sisting of the major with the rest of the commissioned officers, or so many of them as there is 
opportunity for. 

That the soldiers sent out, or to be sent out, be not employed in any other service or expe- 
dition than what is now agreed on, without further consent of the several colonies. 

That the officers be required to maintain good order amongst the soldiers, to discountenance 
and punish vice, and as much as may be to keep the sabbath, and maintain the worship of 

Jacob Leisler, William Stoughton, Samuel Sewall, P. D. Lanoy, John Walley, Nathaniel 
Gold, William Pitkin. 


Efforts were made to obtain additional aid from New Jer- 
sey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Leisler, in a letter 
addressed to the governments of these colonies, said : " I 
hope you will not be wanting so blessed a work at this time 
to please God and our gracious king. Losing the opportu- 
nity and neglecting the season may cause the next genera 
tion to curse us." l 

I need only state, as the result of this congress, that it 
was resolved to attempt the reduction of Canada by two 
lines of attack, one to conquer Acadia, and then to move 
on Quebec ; and the other, by the route of Lake Champlain, 
to assault Montreal. The New-England forces under Sir 
William Phips, assigned to the first route, captured Acadia 
and Port Royal, and sailed for Quebec, in the expectation 
of being aided by the other forces who marched by the 
Champlain route. But they, under Fitz-Jolm Winthrop, with 
the title of major, were not successful. Leisler, with char- 
acteristic rashness, accused the commander of treachery ; 
while the officers charged the commissary, Jacob Milborne, 
of New York, with inefficiency in procuring supplies. The 
failure of Winthrop occasioned the retreat of Phips. The de- 
feat of this enterprise left the French at liberty to pursue 
their schemes. 

In the interesting events bearing on local government 
and union which have been related, the revolution, inter- 
colonial correspondence, and a congress, two characters 
filled a large space in the public eye, Jacob Leisler and 
Simon Bradstreet. 

Leisler lacked judgment and wisdom in administrative 
affairs, but his aims were comprehensive and patriotic. His 
words are imbued with a reverent spirit, and were evidently 
the utterances of an honest man. It was his lot to encounter 
an opposition led by persons who held office under King 
James. They pursued him with a relentless spirit, and at 
length managed to frame an indictment against him for 

1 Leisler to all the Western governments, May 13, 1690. 


high treason. A court, of which Joseph Dudley, a degen- 
erate son of Massachusetts, was the chief justice, passed 
sentence of death on him ; and also on his son-in-law, Jacob 
Milborne, who had been associated with Leisler in the gov- 
ernment. 1 The new governor, Sloughter, signed the death- 
warrant. The victims and their families petitioned that 
execution might be deferred until his majesty's pleasure 
could be known ; and this touching appeal was supported 
by a memorial signed by a large portion of the people. 2 
But the same relentless party spirit that desecrated the 
temple of justice, steeled the licentious 3 royal governor 
against a plea for mercy. Leisler and Milborne were led 
to the gallows at New York, on the 16th of May, 1691, 
in the midst of a heavy rain. A great number of the in- 
habitants were present ; and a company of British soldiers, 
newly arrived, under Ingolsby, were drawn up to overawe 
them. The patriots, innocent as they certainly were of the 
crime alleged against them, were calm and manly. Mil- 
borne prayed for the king and queen and for the governor 
and council ; but to a party-leader who stood near, Robert 
Livingston, he said, " You have caused the king that I 
must now die ; but before God's tribunal I will implead you 
for the same." He said to Leisler, " We are thoroughly 

1 Contemporary records attest the deep feeling which this proceeding occasioned 
in Massachusetts. The following incident occurred before the execution could have 
been known at Boston: Lawrence Hammond writes (Journal in the Archives of the 
Mass. Hist. Society), under the date of May 19, 1691, " Captain -Sprague told me, 
that, in his hearing at George Marsh's in Boston, and in the hearing of many more, 
Mr. Andrew Belcher, of Charlestown, on the 18th inst., did say, that the jury that 
found Leisler and his accomplices guilty, and Dudley, the judge who condemned 
them to death, deserved to be hanged themselves, and it was a pity Dudley had 
not been hanged when he was in England." Increase Mather, in a letter addressed 
to Dudley, dated Jan. 20, 1708 (1st Mass. Hist. Coll., iii. 127) wrote, "I am afraid 
that the guilt of innocent blood is still crying in the ears of the Lord against you : 
I mean the blood of Leisler and Milborne. My Lord Bellamont said to me, that 
he was one of the committee of the parliament who examined the matter, and that 
those men were not only murdered, but barbarously murdered." 

2 The petition was signed by " more than eighteen hundred persons." New- 
York Doc. Col. Hist., iii. 812. 

3 Sloughter was " licentious in his morals" and avaricious. 


wet with rain ; but in a little while we shall be rained 
through with the Holy Spirit." Leisler had a wife and chil- 
dren, and had been irreproachable in private life. His mind 
was divided between his country and his agonized family. 
He recurred repeatedly to their condition, and implored all 
not to allow them to suffer on his account, but to deal in 
Christian charity with the fatherless and the widow. To 
Milborne he said, " Why must you die ? You have been but a 
servant to us." He confessed that he had committed errors, 
some through ignorance, some through fear that disaffected 
persons would not be true to the interest of the crown of 
England, some through misinformation, some through pas- 
sion, haste, and anger ; and for these errors he asked pardon 
of God and of all whom he had offended. " I am a dying 
man," he said, " and do declare before God and the world, 
that what I have done was for King William and Queen 
Mary, for the defence of the Protestant religion and the 
good of the country. I am ready I am ready." 1 They 
were hung, and their heads were severed from the bodies. 
The fainting and the piercing screams of the women and 
the shrieks of the people were the wail of humanity at 
the commission of so foul a deed. " Some," a writer says, 
" rushing forwards ere the life of their beloved ruler was ex- 
tinct, cut off pieces of his garments as precious relics, and 
his hair was divided out of great veneration as for a mar- 
tyr." 2 It is the office of history to bear witness to Jacob 
Leisler's integrity as a man, his loyalty as a subject, and his 
purity as a patriot. 3 

Far different was the close of the life of Simon Brad- 
street, who was called the Nestor of New England. He 
was born in England, was educated at Emanuel College, 
and, emigrating to Salem, in Massachusetts, was chosen, 

1 The dying speeches of Leisler and Milborne are in the " Documentary History 
of New York," by Dr. E. B. O'Callaghan, ii. 376. 

2 Hoffman's Life of Leisler, Sparks's Biography, xiii. 230. 

8 An Address by Frederick de Peyster, before the New- York Historical Society, 
1864, 23. 


in 1630, one of the assistants. He continued fifty years in 
the magistracy. He was six years the deputy-governor and 
five years the governor, and wa's repeatedly chosen one of the 
commissioners of the United Colonies. His action during 
the revolution was firm and patriotic. It is to his honor 
that he gave encouragement and recognition to Leisler, and 
opposed the proceedings relating to witchcraft. He lived 
to a patriarchal age, and died in peace. His long career 
was characterized by piety, a spirit of self-sacrifice, and, in 
a season of danger, of moral heroism ; and if he was not a 
great man, he yet rendered good service to the cause of 
liberty and his country. 1 

Bradstreet and Leisler were imbued with a spirit of loy- 
alty. This is seen in the brief and stormy career and in the 
sublime dying speech of Leisler and in the long service of 
Bradstreet. In respect to the essential element of sover- 
eignty, they may be considered as representative men. They 
were enthusiasts in behalf of William and Mary. The 
popular feeling in the colonies was not merely a cold acqui- 
escence in their accession, but a high enthusiasm for it. It 
created joyful hearts. 2 It was hailed as a promise of a 
revival and guarantee of English liberties ; and, with them, 
of a restoration to the colonists of their ancient customs 
and rights. When this hope animated the people, it was 
said in print, that it was not merely individual sentiment, 
but public opinion in the colonies, that the English nation 
was never so happy in a king and queen. The prayer was 
added, " The God of Heaven, who has set them on the 

1 Bradstreet died at Salem, March 27, 1697, aged ninety-five. 

2 Increase Mnther was agent of Massachusetts in 1689. On the 14th of March, 
he was introduced to King William, who remarked, that he would direct the king 
and queen to be proclaimed by the former magistrates. Mather replied, " Sir, they 
will do it with the joyfullest hearts in the world." Mather also said to the King of 
New England, " Your majesty may, by the assistance of New England, become the 
Emperor of America. I durst engage, that your subjects there will readily venture 
their lives in your service. All that is humbly desired on their behalf is only that 
they may enjoy their ancient rights and privileges." Cotton Mather's Remarka- 


throne of these kingdoms, grant them long and prosper- 
ously to reign ! " 1 

A set of officials, however, continued to represent, that 
the colonies, and especially New England, desired and 
aimed to cast off their dependence on the mother country ; 
and the question was debated in the Council for Foreign 
Plantations what form it was expedient to use in addressing 
colonies that were ripe for rebellion ; 2 and it was said, that 
the popular leaders must have had orders from William un- 
known to others, or that they meant to cast off their depen- 
dence or obedience to the crown of England. The basis of 
truth in this allegation was their attachment to their local 
self-government, and the spirit in which the colonies, each in 
its own mode, opposed the designs of arbitrary power. The 
servile doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance 
never had a foot-hold in British North America. 3 The events 
known as the Culpepper insurrection in Carolina, and Ba- 
con's rebellion in Virginia, were manifestations of the same 
spirit which effected the revolution that extended from the 
Potomac to the St. Croix. Whatever might have been the 
ultimate tendency, the whole action was but a claim for old 
customs and liberties. And the closest inspection of the 
inter-colonial correspondence, and of the object of those 
who called the first American congress, will fail to discover 

1 Preface to " The Revolution in New England Justified," printed in 1691, in 
which the allegation that 4i the New Englanders were common-wealth's-men, ene- 
mies to monarchy and to the Church of England," was pronounced to be a sham. 

2 Evelyn's Diary, ii. 60, 61. June 6, 1671, " I went to council, where was pro- 
duced a most ample and exact information ... of the best expedients as to New 
England, on which there was a long debate." " We understood they were on the 
very brink of renouncing any dependence on the crown." Aug. 3. The matter in 
debate was whether we should send a deputy to New England, with an open com- 
mission, " but in truth with secret instructions to inform us ... whether they were 
of such power as to be able to resist his majesty, and declare for themselves as inde- 
pendent of the crown." 

3 The first paragraph of '' The Revolution of New England Justified" (1691) is as 
follows : " The doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, which a sort of men 
did of late, when they thought the world would never change, cry up as divine 
truth, is, by means of the happy revolution in these nations, exploded ; and the 
asserters of it become ridiculous." 



hostility to the monarchical principle, or any desire to set 
up an independent nation. 1 

Indeed, the twelve colonies were not in a condition to es- 
tablish a separate nationality. They had no bond of union. 
They had no naval force. Their means of inter-communi- 
cation was very imperfect. George Fox, in 1671, travelled 
from Rhode Island to Carolina through woods and the wil- 
derness, over bogs and across moors, sometimes being a day 
without a sight of man or woman or dwelling-place, sleep- 
ing in the woods and in Indian wigwams, and not without 
danger to his life. Six years later, another relation of a 
journey shows that there was then no regular road through 
the colonies. Nor was there, in 1690, a general post-office. 
In a word, there were only the germs of a nation, ideas 
and their tendencies as applied by prosperous communities. 

The colonies contained varied fields of enterprise. The 
rugged clime of New England fostered free labor and com- 

1 Chalmers (Annals, 593) remarked of this congress, "Massachusetts, New Ply- 
mouth, and Connecticut formed a league with Leisler. ... Of New England, it is a 
remarkable characteristic, that she has at all times found delight amid scenes of 
turbulence." In the preface to his " Opinions of Eminent Lawyers," printed first 
in 1814, he stated, that, among the documents in the Board of Trade and Paper 
Office, there were " the most satisfactory proofs " of the settled purpose of the colo- 
nies, from " the epoch of the Revolution of 1688," " to acquire direct independence." 
He presented, however, none of these proofs. It is stated by Viscount Bury, in his 
"Exodus of the Western Nations" (i. 395), that, soon after the accession of William 
and Mary, the colonies " formed the resolution of becoming independent of the mother 
country." He does not, however, state any evidence to sustain this assertion. 

The denial of this charge was as continuous as was its repetition. Among the 
actors of the period I h.-ive reviewed in this chapter was Thomas Danforth. He was 
an able, upright, and wise man, and had great influence in the direction of public 
affairs in 1665, and in 1690 particularly. He died in 1699, at the age of 77. In an 
elaborate letter, dated July 6, 1689, and addressed to Increase Mather (Hutchinson's 
Coll., 567), he refers repeatedly to the loyalty of the people to the crown. He 
wrote, " Nature hath taught us self-preservation : God commands it as being the 
rule of chuirity towards our neighbor. Our great remoteness from England denies 
us the opportunity of direction and order from thence for the regulating ourselves in 
all emergencies, nor have we means to know the laws and customs of our nation. 
These things are our great disadvantage. We have always endeavored to approve 
ourselves loyal to the crown of England, and are well assured that none of our worst 
enemies dare to tax us in that matter; and we have also labored to attend the direc- 
tions of our charter, under the security whereof were laid by our fathers the founda- 
tions of this his majesty's colony." 


mercial activity. The thick forests of New York abounded 
in game, and supplied furs and skins ; the soil of Maryland 
and Virginia yielded great crops of tobacco ; and the Caro- 
linas were famed for rice and maize. The people of each 
colony desired to exchange their surplus products for the 
articles they needed, and they could see no sin in doing this 
in ships built and manned by themselves. This was the 
beginning of a mutually profitable commerce between the 
rising colonies. 

The spectacle of prosperity attracted the attention of the 
British writers on political economy. They divided the 
American colonies into two distinct classes, one the pro- 
ductions of which, as sugar or tobacco, did not come in 
competition with the products of the mother country ; and 
the other, specifying New England, which imitated Old Eng- 
land in tillage, fishing, manufactures, and trade, and which, 
supplying the other colonies with provisions, took in ex- 
change their sugar or rice or tobacco, and carried them 
to foreign ports. Legislators were advised to discriminate 
wisely between the depending and profitable, and the de- 
tached and undermining, colonies, and to rightly apply 
" tentatives and corrosives." If any were to be neglected 
and discouraged, it was suggested they should only be 
those which pursued a method that rivalled the native king- 
dom, and " threatened in time a total independence there- 
from." i 

This speculation, that the colonies might be in a condition 
to become independent, is seen also in verse. The thought 
was expressed by Sir Thomas Browne, in a prophecy con- 
cerning the future state of America, which occurs in a series 
of rather vague foreshadowings. It was of a time, * 

" When America shall cease to send out its treasure, 
But employ it at home in American pleasure ; 
When the new world shall the old invade, 
Nor count them their lords, but their fellows in trade." 

1 Harlean Miscellany, ii. 360. Tract printed in 1690. 


" That is," the author wrote, " when America shall be 
better civilized, new policied, and divided between great 
princes, it will come to pass that they will no longer suffer 
their treasure of gold and silver to be sent out for the 
luxury of Europe and other parts ; but rather employ it to 
their own advantages, in great exploits and undertakings, 
magnificent structures, wars, or expeditions of their own. 
. . . When America shall be so well peopled, civilized, and 
divided into kingdoms, they are like to have so little re- 
gard of their originals as to acknowledge no subjection unto 
them ; they may also have a distinct commerce between 
themselves, or but independently with those of Europe, and 
may hostilely and piratically assault them, even as the Greek 
and Roman colonies after a long time dealt with their origi- 
nal countries." 1 

1 Sir Thomas Browne's Works, iii. 261, 266. This prophecy was first printed in 



1690 TO 1760. 

THE New-England Confederacy, inter-colonial correspond- 
ence, and a congress, are memorials of the working of union 
elements, during seventy years of the colonization of North 
America. As population and wealth increased, and the 
scheme of France to obtain dominion unfolded, the greater 
became the want of a way to regulate the growing com- 
mercial intercourse, and to provide for the general security. 
The method naturally suggested to attain these ends was 
to unite the colonies into a common polity. Accordingly, 
one class urged the formation of a union based on principles 
in harmony with the genius of American institutions ; but 
union was also pressed by royal officials and others as an 
instrumentality to check popular power, to consolidate func- 
tions in the prerogative, to secure the advantages of a mer- 
cantile monopoly, and to inaugurate a system of taxation ; 
and, when a convention at Albany, called by the crown, 
recommended a plan of union to be authorized by an act of 
Parliament, it was unanimously rejected by the colonial 
assemblies. Thus the law of diversity continued to be para- 
mount for another period of seventy years, with the result, 
at its close, of thirteen colonies, independent of each other 
in respect to their local affairs, but united by the tie of 
loyalty to the crown in the bonds of a common country. 

When the plan of union referred to was rejected, a new 
claimant had appeared for a portion of the soil of North 


America. The European discoverers followed the course of 
the sun from the east to the land of the west over the Atlan- 
tic ; but the Russians, passing over their territories from 
the west to the east, made discoveries and settlements on 
the northwest coast, which entitled them to possessions com- 
prising an area of about half a million of square miles. 1 
England, France, and Spain, beside being claimants of the 
soil, were rivals for a monopoly of its commerce. At that 
period, maps were printed in England delineating the vast- 
ness of the region which the French were attempting to 
hold. It was represented to be a broad belt of territory, 
beginning at the Gulf of St. Lawrence and extending along 
the basins of the great lakes, the Ohio and the Mississippi 
Rivers, to the Gulf of Mexico, on which were shown the 
forts and missionary posts which had been established. 2 

1 Kohl (Discovery of America, ii. 146) says the Russians opened the overland 
route to America. The chase of the sable carried the Cossacks from the Ural to the 
Amoor, and the chase of the sea-otter carried them to the new continent. Ibid., ii. 
178. Kamtchatka had been known by report in Yakutsk since 1690. Behring's first 
expedition was in 1725, and was finished in three years ; his second and great expe- 
dition, which lasted sixteen years, sailed July 4, 1741. From 1743, expeditions 
penetrated further east from promontory to promontory. In 1760 (ibid., ii. 179), the 
traders touched at Alaska. 

2 The maps of North America are too numerous to specify. It is stated, that 
the French and English commissioners, at and after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, 
in 1748, collected, consulted, and criticised as many as fifty American maps. 
Kohl's Lectures on the Charts and Maps of America. The Ebeling Collection, in 
the Library of Harvard College, is rich in American maps. Douglass, the author of 
"A Summary, Historical and Political," of the British settlements in North America, 
in a letter to Cadwallader Golden, dated Sept. 14, 1729, says there was not a map of 
the provinces of New England but was "intolerably and grossly erroneous." The 
best map of America at this time was De Lisle's of 1722. In this map, Louisiana is 
delineated as a great region. The maps of Henry Popple of 1733 are very elaborate. 
The most accurate map, however, was that of the celebrated D'Anville. This was 
adopted by Douglass in his history, the edition of 1755. The map is entitled 
" North America, from the French of Mr. D'Anville, improved with the back settle- 
ments of Virginia, and course of the Ohio illustrated, with Geographical and Historical 
remarks." The date on this map is May, 1755. The " Gentleman's Magazine " for 
July, 1755, contains " A Map of the British and French Settlements in North Ameri- 
ca," in which the region claimed by France appears in a darker shade than the rest 
of the map. In 1755, Huske published " A New and Accurate Map of North Amer- 
ica, wherein the errors of all preceding British, French, and Dutch maps, respect- 
ing the rights of Great Britain, France, and Spain, and the limits of each of his 
majesty's provinces, are corrected.". 


The splendid territory, called Florida by the Spaniards and 
Louisiana by the French, extended on the Atlantic coast to 
Carolina. Treaty stipulations between the European powers 
left boundary questions in such an indefinite state, the 
rivalry for the colonial trade was so great, and national in- 
terests had become so complicated, that Voltaire wrote, " A 
shot fired in America may be the signal of the conflagration 
of Europe." 1 

The population of the colonies, in seventy years, increased 
from two hundred thousand to a million and a half. It was 
described as " a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, 
' Dutch, Germans, and Swedes." 2 Only small groups of Irish 
and Scotch were seen in the colonies in the seventeenth 
century; but, in the reigns of Anne and George L, oppres- 
sion and scarcity of food drove large numbers of them to 
America. They were termed Scotch-Irish. They were gen- 
erally Presbyterians ; and wherever they settled, they adopted 
the usages of the Church of Scotland. 3 Germans also emi- 
grated in large numbers, and chiefly into Maryland and 
Pennsylvania. 4 The African race rapidly multiplied, by 
fresh importations as well as by natural increase. Their 
numbers were estimated to be in New England eleven 
thousand ; in New York and in Pennsylvania, including 
Delaware, each eleven thousand ; in New Jersey, fifty-five 
hundred ; and in the other colonies two hundred and twenty- 
two thousand. 5 The great body of them were slaves. At 
that period, the slave-trade was a part of the British Consti- 
tution, 6 and a share of its gains went into the national trea- 
sury. All the efforts of the colonists to check the horrid 

1 Essay on Universal History, iv. 186. 

2 " Letters from an American Farmer," and by J. Hector St. John, 48. These 
letters are dated from ''Carlisle in Pennsylvania." In the first letter, it is stated, 
that, when it and some of the succeeding letters were written, the troubles that 
convulsed the colonies had not broken out. I quote from a new edition printed in 
1783. They were written by a Frenchman (Crevecoeur), who came over in 1754. 

8 Scotch-Irish Immigrations to America by William Willis. 

4 Gordon's Pennsylvania, 208. 5 Bancroft, iv. 130. 

6 Henry Thomas Buckle. 


traffic were futile. English cupidity and the avarice of 
unnatural Americans continued to transport Africans from 
their native country to the colonies, and thus a terrible 
legacy was inflicted on posterity. 

All the colonies exercised powers of government under 
authority derived from the crown. In seven of them, the 
forms remained the same as they were at the close of the 
former period : Virginia and New York continued royal gov- 
ernments ; and Maryland and Pennsylvania retained their 
proprietary character, the three lower counties of the lat- 
ter becoming the independent province of Delaware ; Con- 
necticut and Rhode Island were permitted to resume their 
charters. The crown decreed important territorial and 
political changes in the five other colonies. It granted to 
Massachusetts a charter which included the Plymouth juris- 
diction, and embraced the " Province of Maine ; " but took 
from the people the election of the governor. It constituted 
the towns of New Hampshire a separate province ; united 
into one colony East and West New Jersey ; divided Caro- 
lina into the two colonies of North Carolina and South Caro- 
lina ; and it founded Georgia, giving to these five colonies 
royal governments. The rights conveyed by charters and 
royal instructions were necessarily vague and indefinite; 
but under each form the people shared in the control of 
local affairs through representative assemblies. When the 
question of forming a union occupied the public mind, the 
jurisdiction of the thirteen colonies was determined, their 
constitutions were organized, the groundwork of their juris- 
prudence was laid, and the character of their inhabitants 
was established. 

A glance at the statistics of the population of the several 
sections of the country will indicate their political weight. 
New England had increased from 75,000, in 1688, to 436,000 
in 1754 ; New York, from 20,000 to 96,000 ; Pennsylvania, 
Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland, from 47,000 to 
432,000 ; Virginia, from 50,000 to 284,000 ; and the Caro- 


linas and Georgia, from 8,000 to 177,000.! " Some few 
towns excepted," a colonist wrote, " we are all tillers of 
the earth, from Nova Scotia to West Florida. We are a 
people of cultivators, scattered over an immense territory, 
communicating with each other by means of good roads and 
navigable rivers, united by the silken bands of mild gov- 
ernment, all respecting the laws, without dreading their 
power, because they are equitable." 2 

The homogeneity of race and the similarity of develop- 
ment of the New England colonies elicited remarks on them 
of the kind which has been quoted. 3 It was said, that, as a 
people, the New Englanders were renowned for their love of 
letters and their wisdom, for their industry and their enter- 
prising genius, and for universal loyalty ; that there never 
was a people, who, with an ungrateful soil, had done more 
in so short a time ; and that in their governments lay the 
main strength of the British interest on the continent. 4 

1 Bancroft (iv. 130) estimates the population of each colony, whites and blacks,, 
in 1754, as follows: 

White. Black. 

New England . . . Massachusetts 207,000 ) 

New Hampshire 50,000 } 

Connecticut 133,000 3,500' 

Rhode Island r . . . 35,000 4,500 

The Middle Colonies . New York 85,000 11,000 

New Jersey 73,000 5,500- 


Delaware ) 

Maryland 104,000 44,000 

Southern Colonies . Virginia 168,000 116,000 

North Carolina 90,000 20,000 

South Carolina 40,000 40,000 

Georgia 5,000 2,000 

2 Letters from an American Farmer, 147. 
8 See pages 44, 75. 99. 

4 Letter, dated "New York, Sept. 20, 1756," attributed to Governor Livingston 
and two lawyers of New York. 1 Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 139. In the " Boston 
Gazette," Aug. 23, 1754, it is said, "His majesty had not a more universally loyal 
people in all his dominions." Letters from an American Farmer, 49. This writer 
says, "1 know it is fashionable to reflect on them (the New-England provinces), 
"but I respect them for what they have done, for the accuracy and wisdom with 
which they have settled their territory," &c. See also page 68. The speech of the 
Bishop of St. Asaph (Rev. Dr. Jonathan Shipley), intended to have been spoken in 
the House of Lords, and which was circulated in the American newspapers of the fall 


It was remarked that the New Englanders " were the 
unmixed descendants of Englishmen ; " 1 and the numbers 
of other lineage were so few as not to affect society. 
This homogeneity is not seen in any other group of colo- 
nies. The Dutch, French, Germans, Irish, and Scotch were 
so numerous in other sections as to constitute a feature of 
the population. This fact suggested a broad and in spiring 
generalization. The colonies were termed " a great Ameri- 
can asylum." 2 In it the poor from the various nations 
of Europe, by some means, met together. To what pur- 
pose, it was said, should they ask one another what coun- 
trymen they were? Alas! two-thirds of them had had no 
country. They had been numbered in no civil list but that 
of the poor. They had not owned a single foot of land. 
They had no harvests from the fields which they had tilled. 
Their lives had been scenes of sore affliction or of pinching 
penury. They had been assailed by hunger, want, and war. 
And they were " only as so many useless plants, wanting 
the vegetable mould and the refreshing showers." But in 
this asylum they rank as citizens. They are stamped by the 
laws with the symbol of adoption. They acquire lands as 
the reward of their industry : this gives them the title of 
freemen ; and to this 'title is affixed every benefit man can 
acquire. These laws proceed from the government ; and 
the government is derived from the original genius and 
strong desire of the people. This is the picture every prov- 
ince exhibits. This is the great chain that links us all. 
The country for the emigrant is that which gives him land, 
bread, protection, and consequence. "He is an American, 

of 1774, has the following allusion to the service New England rendered in the colo- 
nial wars : " Let us not forget that the people of New England were themselves, 
during the last war, the most forwnrd of all in the national cause ; that every year 
we voted them a considerable sum in acknowledgment of their zeal and their ser- 
vices ; that in the preceding war they alone enabled us to make the Treaty of Aix- 
la-Chapelle, by furnishing us with the only equivalent for the towns that were taken 
from our allies in Flanders; and that in times of peace they alone have taken from 
us six times as much of our woollen manufactures as the whole kingdom of Ireland." 
1 Letters from an American Farmer, 48. 2 Ibid., 49. 


who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and man- 
ners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has 
embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank 
he holds. He becomes an American by being received in 
the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals 
of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose 
labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the 
world. Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carry- 
ing along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigor, 
and industry which began long since in the East. They 
will finish the great circle." 1 

The colonies, moulded and directed by a race of freemen, 
continued to be treated by the mother country in the auto- 
cratic spirit which has been described. The revolution, pro- 
nounced the most beneficent of all revolutions for England, 2 
proved little more than a succession of an unnatural policy 
for America. The colonial administration of William and 
Mary embodied a zealous attachment to the prerogative and 
a stern exercise of arbitrary power. 3 Royal officials, who had 
been imprisoned by the colonists for their oppressions, were 
installed governors and judges. The same spirit controlled 
the colonial action during most of the reigns of Queen Anne 
and George I. and George II. At times, decisions were 
wisely taken, as was the case when Sir Robert Walpole de- 
clined to tax America. But, in the main, Great Britain, 
like an unnatural parent, treated her colonies, during sev- 
enty years, as aliens and rivals. 

The superintendence of colonial affairs continued, for a 
few years after the accession of William, in the hands of the 

1 Letters from an American.Farmer, 49, 50, 51, 53. 

2 Macaulay's Hist. England, ii. 661. 

3 " In the colonial administration of William III., we see the attachment to pre- 
rogative of James I. and his son, the bustle of the protector, the contrariety of 
Charles II., and the arbitrariness of the banished king. By denying to the colonists 
the liberty of the press, after it had thrown off its shackles in England, he even 
deprived them of freedom of mind. By refusing them the writ of habeas corpus, 
he withheld the strongest fence of personal freedom." Chalmers's Revolt of the 
American Colonies, i. 307. 


Privy Council. In 1696, at the instance of Lord Somers, a 
board was created, entitled " The Lords of Trade and Plan- 
tations." At first, it consisted of a president and seven 
members, but was subsequently enlarged, and was continued 
through the colonial age. Several of the English statesmen, 
whose names are familiar to Americans, from their connec- 
tion with colonial politics, were members of this board. To 
it was assigned the duty of a general oversight of American 
affairs, and of recommending measures relative to the colo- 
nies, and it was the channel of official intercourse with them. 
In a circular (Sept. 26, 1696) to the governors, it required 
frequent and full information of the condition of their gov- 
ernments respecting commercial and political affairs ; and 
particularly accounts of the proceedings of the assemblies, of 
the sums assessed for the public service, and how they were 
expended. The royal agents in the colonies and others 
addressed their letters to this board. It was the lion's 
mouth into which the accusations and complaints against 
the colonies were indiscriminately cast. 

While the spirit and proceedings of this Board evinced a 
purpose to interfere in the internal affairs of the colonies, 
the scheme of France to extend her dominion in America 
was a continual menace. There were intervals of peace 
during the period of seventy years ; but even in these times 
the establishment of a new military station was the occasion 
of fresh alarm to the colonists. In the long wars that were 
waged, the French and their Indian allies hurled the arrows 
of death and desolation on the back settlements of Carolina, 
Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and even into the heart of New 
England. The English colonists felt equal to the work of 
defending themselves from the attacks of the French colo- 
nists ; but they asked that English troops might be sent over 
by the Government to meet French troops. The colonies, 
however, for many years were left to their own resources for 
their defence. This external danger made that whole period 
one of anxiety, struggle, and sorrow ; of taxation that 


pressed heavily on industry ; and of a flow of precious blood 
that transformed the home into the house of mourning. It 
can now be seen, however, that, in this providential school of 
adversity and of difficulty, statesmen and soldiers, imbued 
with the spirit of a new and rich political life, were trained 
in civil and in military affairs for the work of founding the 

This common danger naturally suggested to the thought- 
ful the value of union to provide for the general defence. 
" Without a general constitution for warlike operations," it 
was said, " we can neither plan nor execute. We have a 
common interest, and must have a common council, one 
head and one purse." x Then, as population and wealth in- 
creased, and commercial exchanges multiplied, the want was 
the more sensibly felt of regulations applicable to all, rela- 
tive to the collection of debts, the currency, weights and 
measures, and " to establish an equal liberty of trade in all 
the plantations on the continent of America." 2 It 'was 
urged, that an umpire was needed to settle the fierce dis- 
putes between the colonies about their boundaries. It was 
said, that no one could tell what was law and what was not law 
in the plantations, and that hence there was doubt and un- 
certainty in matters of the greatest moment ; 8 and that the 

1 1 Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 162. 

2 Essay upon the Government of the English Plantations, &c. By an Ameri- 
can. London: 1701, p. 55. The writer was a Virginian. 

8 The following extract from the " Essay upon the Government," &c. (1701), p. 18, 
describes the condition of the law in the colonial age: "It is a great unhappiness, 
that no one can tell what is law and what is not in the plantations. Some hold that 
the law of England is chiefly to be respected, and, where that is deficient, the laws 
of the several colonies are to take place; others are of opinion, that the laws of the 
colonies are to take the first place, and that the law of England is of force only 
where they are silent; others there are who contend for the laws of the colonies, in 
conjunction with those that were in force in England at the first settlement of the 
colony, and lay down that as the measure of our obedience, alleging that we are 
not bound to observe any late acts of parliament in England, except, such only 
where the reason of the law is the same here that it is in England. But, this leaving 
too great a latitude to the judge, some others hold that no late act of the parliament 
of England do bind the plantations, but those only wherein the plantations are par- 
ticularly named. Thus are we left in the dark in one of the most considerable 
points of our rights ; and, the case being so doubtful, we are too often obliged to de- 


chief thing wanting to render the inhabitants of the planta- 
tions happy was " a free constitution." Those who advocated 
this averred that they desired " a just and equal govern- 
ment, that they might enjoy their obscurity and the poor 
way of living which nature was pleased to afford them 
out of the earth in peace, and be protected in the possession 
thereof by their lawful mother England." l The mode that 
naturally suggested itself to obtain such a constitution was 
through the representative principle and by a congress, or 
by forming a union. 

One of the earliest of the plans was that of the noble 
founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, proposed in 1698. 
It is entitled " A brief and plain scheme whereby the Eng- 
lish colonies may be made more useful to the crown and 
one another's peace and safety with an universal concur- 
rence." It provided that each province should appoint 
two persons well qualified for sense, sobriety, and substance 
to form a congress, and to meet once a year, and oftener 
in time of war, and at least once in two years in times of 
peace ; and that this congress should mature measures 
for the better understanding of the colonies with each 
other, and promote the public tranquillity ; namely, the 
settlement of disputes between province and province, the 
prevention of injuries to commerce, and provisions for 
the general safety. It provided that the presiding officer 
of this body should be a high commissioner, appointed by 
the crown, who, in time of war, should command the colo- 
nial forces. The provision relating to supplying quotas of 
men and money, gives as a reason for an adjustment by 
congress rather than by " an establishment " in England, 
that the provinces knew their own condition the best, and 

pend upon the crooked cord of a judge's discretion in matters of the greatest moment 
and value." 

1 "Essay upon the Government," 1701. In this early argument urging a union, 
the word "constitution" is repeatedly used. One constitution was advocated by 
one class of Americans. 


could better adjust and balance their affairs for the com- 
mon safety. This plan recognized colonial customs, and is 
marked by the spirit of fraternity and patriotism, and by 
that aim at the common good which characterized the career 
of William Penn. 1 

In 1698, Charles Davenant, an English writer of note, 
discussed elaborately the question of colonial policy in a 
" Discourse on the Plantation Trade." Though he advo- 
cated an exercise of the full power of the mother country 
over the colonies, yet he urged also a principle constantly 
put forth by them ; namely, that, in any government that 
might be established over them, care should be taken to 

1 I copy this plan from the " New- York Colonial Documents," iv. 297. It is 
placed in the table of contents under the date of Feb. 8, 1698: 


A brief and plain scheme how the English colonies in the North parts of America, viz., 
Boston, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jerseys, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vir- 
ginia, and Carolina, may be made more useful to the crown and one another's peace and 
safety with an universal concurrence. 

1. That the several colonies before mentioned do meet once a year, and oftener if need be 
during the war, and at least once in two years in times of peace, by their stated and appointed 
deputies, to debate and resolve of such measures as are most advisable for their better under- 
standing and the public tranquillity and safety. 

2. That, in order to it, two persons, well qualified for sense, sobriety, and substance, be 
appointed by each province as their representatives or deputies, which in the whole make the 
congress to consist of twenty persons. 

3. That the king's commissioner, for that purpose specially appointed, shall have the chair 
and preside in the said congress. 

4. That they shall meet as near as conveniently may be to the most central colony for ease 
of the deputies. 

5. Since that may in all probability be New York, both because it is near the centre of the 
colonies and for that it is a frontier and in the king's nomination, the governor of that colony 
may therefore also be the king's high commissioner during the session, after the manner of 

6. That their business shall be to hear and adjust all matters of complaint or difference be- 
tween province and province. As, 1st, where persons quit their own province and go to 
another, that they may avoid their just debts, though they be able to pay them ; 2d, where 
offenders fly justice, or justice cannot well be had upon such offenders in the provinces that 
entertain them; 3d, to prevent or cure injuries in point of commerce ; 4th, to consider the 
ways and means to support the union and safety of these provinces against the public enemies. 
In which congress the quotas of men and charges will be much easier and more equally set than 
it is possible for any establishment made here to do ; for the provinces, knowing their own 
condition and one another's, can debate that matter with more freedom and satisfaction, and 
better adjust and balance their affairs in all respects for their common safety. 

7. That, in times of war, the king's high commissioner shall be general or chief commander 
of the several quotas upon service against the common enemy, as he shall be advised, for the 
good and benefit of the whole. 


observe sacredly the charters and terms under which the 
emigrants, at the hazard of their lives, had effected dis- 
coveries and settlements. After giving an abstract of 
Penn's plan of union, he commended it as a " constitution " 
contrived with good judgment, and likened it to the Grecian 
court of the Amphictyons. Among his suggestions is that 
of the formation of a " national assembly " for the consid- 
eration of all matters relative to the general welfare ; and 
one of his liberal remarks is, that the stronger and greater 
the colonies grow, " the more they would benefit the crown 
and the kingdom ; and nothing but such an arbitrary 
power as shall make them desperate can bring them to 
rebel." 1 

In 1701, a Virginian printed in London " An Essay upon 
the Government of the English Plantations on the Conti- 
nent," in which the schemes of Penn and Davenant are 
sharply criticised. He held it to be a defect in the plan for 
the proposed general assembly, that it should consist of an 
equal number of deputies from each province, when the 
colonies were so vastly different in numbers, extent of ter- 
ritory, and the value of their trade ; and he suggested what 
he regarded as a more equal apportionment. 2 He held that 
it would be unreasonable that the province of New York 
and its governor should be advanced in dignity above the 
rest of the colonies and their governors, as would be the 
case if the general council always met in New York, and its 

1 " Davenant's Works," ii. 11. He thought that the danger that New England 
or other parts would set up manufactures was very remote, as this was the last work 
of a people settled three or four hundred years. 

2 The writer of the essay (p. 69) proposed the deputies should be as follows: 
Virginia, four; Maryland, three; New York, two; Boston, three; Connecticut, 
two ; Rhode Island, two ; Pennsylvania, one ; the two Carolinas, one ; and each of the 
two Jerseys, one. The title of this essay is as follows: u An Essay upon the Govern- 
ment of the English Plantations on the Continent of America. Together with some 
remarks upon the Discourse on the Plantation Trade, written by the author of the 
Essay on Ways and Means, and published in the second part of his Discourses on 
the Public Revenues, and on the Trade of England. By an American. London : 


governor was the high commissioner. He proposed to obvi- 
ate this objection by forming five circuits, in each of which, 
in its turn, the deputies should hold their meetings. This 
would enable them to become informed as to the condition 
of the whole continent, and it would tend to make the most 
considerable persons of each province personally acquainted. 
It would be looked upon as a part of a genteel education 
for the sons of the deputies to go in their company to 
these conventions. This essay urged the general considera- 
tions which have been already stated in favor of such a 

In 1722, Daniel Coxe, who held several high offices in 
New Jersey, printed a volume at London, intended to call 
public attention to the designs of France. He proposed that 
all the British colonies on the continent should be " united 
under a legal, regular, and firm establishment, over which a 
lieutenant or .supreme governor should be constituted and 
appointed to preside on the spot, to whom the governors of 
each colony should be subordinate ; " that " two deputies 
should be annually elected by the council and assembly of 
each province, who are to be in the nature of a great coun- 
cil or general convention of the states of the colonies," to 
consult for the good of the whole, and fix on the quotas of 
men or money that each government was to raise for the* 
mutual defence, in which the governor-general was to have 
a negative ; and that the quota of each colony " should be 
levied and raised by its own assembly in such manner as 
they should judge most easy and convenient." Other pro- 
visions were left for future consideration. Coxe enforced 
this proposal in a spirited strain of remark. He portrayed 
the folly of the past disunion of the colonies, and urged 
that " a coalition or union would lay a sure and lasting 
foundation of dominion, strength, and trade." "Let us 
consider," he said, " the fall of our ancestors, and grow wise 
by their misfortunes. If the ancient Britons had been 
united amongst themselves, the Romans, in all probability, 



had never become their masters : " they fought in separate 
bodies, and the whole island was subdued. 1 

These citations serve to show the germs of the union that 
grew into favor. It was to be formed on the basis of repre- 
sentation ; to be as extensive as the continent ; to be under 
one constitution ; and, while protecting the rights and in- 
terests of the colonists, was to be consistent with loyalty to 
the crown. But no great event had occurred to create a 
fraternal feeling between the colonies. Their rivalries were 
sharp, and their interests were distinct. Nor was there the 
common bond of joint memories. Though they were by no 
means political orphans, yet their sentiment of nationality 
was rooted in the glories of the mother country. Then 
whatever growing disposition to favor union there might 
have been was checked by the fact, that royal officials and 
others zealously urged this great step as a means to pro- 
mote the objects which they had in view. 

The party of the prerogative recommended union, or 
rather unity, during the whole period of seventy years. 
They regarded with alarm the growth of popular power in 
the colonies, and as a means to check it, they continually 
petitioned, 2 that the various local governments might be con- 

1 Daniel Coxe was a son of a large land proprietor, had resided fourteen years in 
America, been speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, and had visited the most con- 
siderable colonies. His book is entitled " A Description of the English Province of 
Carolana, by the Spaniards called Florida, and by the French La Louisiane," &c. 
London, 1722. He was a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, and died in 
office at Trenton, in May, 1739 Smith's New Jersey, 427. 

2 Petitions of this character were sent over even before the formation of the Lords 
of Trade. Thus the Governor and Council of New York, after elaborate argument, 
say, in a petition (Aug. 6, 1691) to the king, ''There can be nothing in America 
more conducive to your majesty's dignity and advantage, and for the safety of your 
majesty's subjects upon this continent, than that Connecticut, East and West New 
Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the three lower counties (Delaware), be re-annexed to your 
majesty's province (New York,), which will then be a government of sufficient ex- 
tent." The main grievance alleged is a violation of the laws of trade. Nelson, of 
New York, in a memorial (Sept. 24, 1691), says, " I am now to make another remark 
on the principal and greatest defect and mistake in which we have been and are yet 
under. I mean the number and independency of so man}' small governments, 
whereby our strength is not only divided and weakened, but, by reason of their 
several interests, are become and do esteem each as foreigners, the one unto the other, 


solidated into one government over all the colonies, or at 
least into two or more large and powerful governments. 
Some recommended the establishment of a nobility. With 
this was connected the suggestion of taxation by parlia- 
ment. This line of recommendation had so much weight 
with the Lords of Trade, and harmonized so completely 
with their views and designs, that a remodelling of the 
internal affairs of the colonies and unity became at length 
the corner-stones of their policy. 

The petitions for the appointment of a general governor, 
and for a consolidation of the colonies, elicited, in 1697, an 
elaborate report in the Board on this subject. After stating 
the arguments of those who opposed this measure, the 
Report says that it required the exercise of a higher power, 
and was at that time impracticable. It, however, recom- 
mended to the crown the appointment of a military head of 
the several colonies. Accordingly, Lord Bellamoiit was 
soon commissioned as captain-general over the provinces of 
New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, and Massachu- 

In 1701, Robert Livingston, of New York, in a letter to 
the Lords of Trade, recommended that " one form of gov- 
ernment be established in all the neighboring colonies on 
this continent," and that they be grouped into three divi- 
sions or unions. He proposed to divide Connecticut be- 
tween two of these governments, thus ignoring its charter- 
so that whatever mischiefs doth happen in one part, the rest, by the reason of this 
disunion, remain unconcerned and our strength thereby weakened ; whereas, were 
the colonies of New England, Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York 
joined in one," &c. New- York Col. Doc., iv. 209. Colonel Robert Quarry, in a me- 
morial addressed (June 16, 1703) to the Lords of Trade, gave an elaborate description 
of the internal concerns of the colonies, and especially as to the political opinions 
prevalent in them. He was high in the confidence of the Government, and was 
judge of admiralty in New York and Pennsylvania. He writes, "I may now say, 
that now or never is the time to support the queen's prerogative, and put a stop to 
those wrong, pernicious notions, which are improving daily, not only in Virginia, 
but in all her majesty's governments. ... I cannot recommend a more effectual 
means th:m what I formerly mentioned, the reducing all her majesty's govern- 
ments on the main under one constitution and government as near as possible." 


privileges. He presented the solid argument in favor of his 
scheme, that, as the work of defence was a general concern, 
so it ought to be a general charge. 1 

In 1752, Archibald Kennedy, the receiver-general of New 
York, recommended a scheme of union in a pamphlet 
printed in London. He proposed that commissioners from 
all the colonies should meet annually in New York or 
Albany, to determine on the quotas each should contribute 
for the general defence, and that the exaction of these 
quotas should be enforced by act of parliament. He said, 
" From upwards of forty years' observations upon the con- 
duct of our colonial assemblies, and the little regard paid 
by them to instructions, if it is left altogether with them, 
the whole will end in altercation and words." He proposed 
to confer power on the commissioners to lay out and allot 
the lands on the frontiers of the colonies in townships, after 
the New-England manner, each to have sufficient territory 
for sixty families, and to be clear of all taxes and quit-rents 
for ten years, and also power to erect forts and block- 
houses and to regulate the trade with the Indians. He 
proposed that the colonies should jointly pay the expense 
of transporting emigrants to these townships. He referred 
to the provinces that formed the republic of Holland as a 
model for such a union, remarking that the very name of 
such a confederacy would strike terror into the French, and 
in twenty years put the whole fur-trade into British hands. 2 

In 1752, Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, recommended 
to the Board of Trade the formation of two great political 

1 This scheme of Livingston, dated May 13, 1701, recommended to the Lords of 
Trade, " That one form of goverment be esbiblished in all the neighboring colonies 
on this continent. That they be divided into three distinct governments, to wit: 

"That Virginia and Maryland be annexed to South jind North Caro ina. 

" That some part of Connecticut, New York, East and West New Jersey, Penn- 
sylvania, and New Castle be added together. 

" And that to the Ma-sachusetts be added New Hampshire and Rhode Island 
and the rest of Connecticut." New-York Col. Doc , iv. 874. 

2 Importance of Gaining and Preserving the Friendship of the Indians, &c. 
London, 1752. 


divisions, the northern and the southern ; and, connected 
with it, a scheme for an alliance between the Indians and 
all the British Indians on the continent. He urged this 
plan with great zeal. 

The above review of the propositions for the formation 
of an American constitution shows the conception of union 
entertained by the popular party and by the prerogative 
men. They harmonized to a certain extent in their objects 
and views. They agreed in deploring the increasing evils 
of distinct and rival communities, 1 in looking forward with 
confidence to benefits that would flow from a common 
polity, and in aiming at the statesman-like object of uni- 
formity in the laws. Both parties looked with pride on 
their connection with the mother-country, and desired such 
a constitution as would be consistent with their obligation 
to the crown. But the differences between the two par- 
ties in objects and views iii other things were important 
and vital. One party desired such a union as would rec- 
ognize and protect the customs and privileges, the capaci- 
ties and powers, the native traits of the American, his 
spirit of freedom and equality, the new society which had 
grown up naturally as the new race hewed their way into 
the wilderness and built up communities : the other party 
regarded this spectacle of a social system without an estab- 
lished aristocracy, or religion, or a nobility, 2 or hereditary 

1 Governor Hunter wrote to the Lords of Trade in 1715, " It is matter of wonder, 
that hitherto no effectual method has been thought of for uniting the divided strength 
of these provinces on the continent for the defence of the whole." New-York 
Col. Doc., v. 417. 

2 Francis Bernard, in his " Principles of Law and Polity," &c., written in 1764, 
after he had been governor of New Jersey and while governor of Massachusetts, 
printed in London, says (83), " To settle the American governments to the greatest 
possible advantage, it will be necessary to reduce the number of them ; in some 
places to unite and consolidate; in others to separate and transfer; and in general 
to divide by natural boundaries instead of imaginary lines. If there should be but 
one form of government established for the North-American provinces, it would 
greatly facilitate the reformation of them. ... A nobility, appointed by the king for 
life and made independent, would probably give strength and stability to the Ameri- 
can governments as effectually as hereditary nobility does to that of Great Britain." 
He thought America would not be ripe for an hereditary nobility for many years to 


rulers, as dangerous ; and looked at t^e instrumentality of 
union, not merely to provide for the common defence, but 
to curb the rising popular power. One party sought union to 
establish equality of trade : the other party sought union 
to enforce the mercantile system. One party aimed to pre- 
serve the principle of local self-government in full vigor: 
the other party aimed to abridge its powers by the process 
of absorption, centralization, and consolidation. One party, 
in the conviction that reason would in time bring the colo- 
nies together, were in favor of a voluntary union : the other 
party, who regarded force to be all in all of government, 
advocated a compulsory union, with the design of having 
it enforced by an act of parliament. 

I have not been unmindful of the fact, that congresses * 

1 It may be useful to state a few facts relating to these congresses. It would 
extend the note too far to name all the interviews of governors with the Indians, 
and I select the most important. 

1684. A convention was held at Albany, consisting of officials representing 
Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland, and the snchems of the Five 
Nations. See page 86. 

1693. Governor Fletcher, of New York, pursuant to a circular from the king, 
proposed a meeting of commissioners from the New England governments, Virginia, 
Maryland, and Pennsylvania, to be held at New York, to agree upon the quota of 
men and money each should contribute for the common defence. He says (New- York 
Col. Doc., iv. 74) that " some sent commissioners, others none. Those that came 
pretended they could not proceed to act without a full meeting; so that design was 

1694, Aug. 15. Governor Fletcher, of New York; Governor Hamilton, of New 
Jersey; John Pynchon, Samuel Sewall, and Penn Townsend, of Massachusetts; and 
John Allen and Caleb Stanley, of Connecticut, as commissioners, met at Albany to 
hold a treaty with the Five Nations. Twenty-five sachems were present, who were 
accompanied by other Indians. Holmes's Annals, i. 451. The object of the treaty 
was to prevent the Five Nations from making a peace with the French. Rev. Benja- 
min Wadsworth went with the Massachusetts commissioners. His journal is in 
4 Mass. Coll., i. 102. 

1709, Oct. 14. At the request of Colonel Vetch, a congress of several governors 
was held at New London, to consult on an intended expedition against Canada. 
The British fleet not arriving as was expected, nothing was done. Hutchinson's 
Mass., ii. 161; Gordon, i. 104. 

1711, June 21. In June, General Nicholson arrived at Boston with the news 
that a fleet might be expected soon, and with her majesty's orders to attack Canada: 
bearing orders that the governments of New England, New York, New Jersey, and 
Pennsylvania should have their quotas in readiness. A congress of governors was 
held at New London, on the 21st, who agreed upon the quotas for the several colo- 


and conventions were held at intervals during the period I 
have reviewed. They were convened under the authority 

nies. The officials mentioned as present are Hunter, Dudley, Saltonstall, Cranston, 
and Schuyler. The expedition under Nicholson and Walker met with disaster. 
New-York Col. Doc., v. 257. Another congress was called this year at the suggestion 
of General Nicholson and Colonel Vetch. The circular is dated Boston, Nov. 13, 1711, 
and commences, " The underwritten governors and persons deputed from her ma- 
jesty's government of the Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode 
Island, having used all means to obtain service of the Five Nations, dependent 
upon his majesty's government of New York, in the common service against -the 
French and Indians of Canada, that have these nine years last past annoyed those 
her majesty's provinces, and at last moved a congress of the governors and deputy 
of the aforesaid governments to obtain the services of the Six Nations which we can 
come at." This circular was signed by Penn Townsend and Andrew Belcher of the 
Council of the Massachusetts Bay, and Addington Davenport and Thomas Hutchin- 
son of the assembly; Samuel Penhallow of the council and Thomas Atkinson of the 
assembly of New Hampshire; also by Ff. Nicholson and Samuel Fetch. Mass. Ar- 
chives, ii. 454. Governor Hunter, in a reply dated Nov. 26, 1711, said he would 
lay the scheme before the assembly, and they (Smith's New York, 148) declared 
against it. 

1722, Sept. 10. A congress was held at Albany, at which were present Gov- 
ernor Keith and four members of the Council of Pennsylvania, the governor and 
seven "commissioners for Indian affairs" from New York, and the chiefs of the 
Five Nations. Tanachaha was the Ind an speaker. His words were translated into 
Dutch, and then by Robert Livingston into English. The former league was re- 
newed. The "Historical Register" for 1723 has the proceedings. Another con- 
gress was held at the same place on the 14th of September, which was attended by 
Burnett of New York, Spottswood of Virginia, and Keith of Pennsylvania. New- 
York Col. Doc., v. 567. 

1744, June. A congress was held at Lancaster, Penn. It consisted of commis- 
sioners from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. They held a treaty with the 
deputies of Six Nations, who, with their followers and attendants, were two hun- 
dred and fifty-two. The journal of the secretary of the Maryland commissioners is 
in 1 Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 172-201; Bancroft, in. 455. 

1748, July 23. A congress was held at Albany to cultivate friendship with the 
Six Nations and their aJies, and keep them in dependence on England. It con- 
sisted of the governor of New York, George Clinton, and Cadwallader Colden, Philip 
Living.-ton, James Delancy, and Archibald Kennedy of the New-York Council ; the 
governor of Massachusetts, William Shirley, Thomas Hutchinson, Andrew Oliver, 
and John Choate as commissioners. There were present officers of " The Independ- 
ent Company" and several gentlemen of New York and Massachusetts, and a 
greater number of Indians than any person living had seen before there. The 
Indians promised to send no delegation to Canada, and to keep their warriors in 
readiness whenever the English should call for them. New- York Col. Doc , vi. 437. 
Clinton and Shirley, in a joint letter to the Lords of Trade, Aug. 18, 1748, advised 
that the quotas each colony was to raise should be fixed by royal instruction; 
and that it was requisite "to think of some measure to enforce them." Oliver, 
Hutchinson, and Choate of Massachusetts united in a similar memorial. Ban- 
croft, iv. 29. 


of the crown. They were called to fix on the quotas of 
men and money which each colony was expected to raise 
for the common defence, and to hold treaties with the 
Indians. They were composed of governors, or prominent 
characters, called nsually commissioners. The details rela- 
ting to these congresses are voluminous, and the proceedings 
not without interest and importance. The treaty concluded 
in 1774, at Lancaster, with the Indians, was appealed to by 
the English in the beginning of the great struggle for do- 
minion in America, to fortify their title to the soil as against 
France. The prominent members of the congress of 1748 
petitioned the king that measures might be taken to compel 
the colonies to contribute their quotas for the common de- 
fence ; it being considered a vital object to preserve peace 
with the Six Nations. In the congress of 1751, Governor 
Clinton of New York, as he handed a belt to their chiefs, 
told them that one of the commissioners was from South 
Carolina, which, being a great way off, had never sent one 
before. He said, " I now, by this belt, in your father the 
king of Great Britain's name, and in behalf of all his ma- 
jesty's subjects in North America, renew and confirm the 
covenant chain. ... If all the Indian nations united in 
friendship with Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, 

1751, July 6. Governor George Clinton invited all the governors from New 
Hampshire to South Carolina to join with him in an interview with the Six Nations, 
and the other nations depending on them, to defeat the intrigues of the French, and 
to prevent their encroachments on the Indian territory which Great Britain claimed 
under the treaty of Utrecht. He also invited the colonies to send proper presents to 
make to the Indians; but the assemblies, including that of New York, generally de- 
clined, excepting Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina. The latter sent a 
commissioner and six Indian delegates, together with a present, much too small, 
however, to answer a good purpose. Clinton's Letter, Jan. 13, 1751. This was the 
first time South Carolina sent commissioners to a Congress. The six Indians were 
from the Catawbas, who had been the hereditary enemies of the Six Nations. The 
commissioners were from New York, Governor Clinton, and of the council Cadwalla- 
der Colden, James Alexander, James Delancy, and Edward Holland; from Massa- 
chusetts, Jacob Wendell, Joseph D wight, and Oliver Partridge; from Connecticut 
William Pitkin and John Chester; and from South Carolina William Bull, Jr. "A 
Journal of the Commissioners" of Massachusetts is in "Mass. Archives," xxxviii. 


tliis government (New York), Connecticut, Massachusetts 
Bay, New Hampshire, were truly and firmly united in the 
same council with love and friendship, how great would 
that power be ! What dread it would strike all their ene- 
mies ! And who would dare attempt to hurt them ! " The 
proceedings of these congresses show a habit of joint action 
in colonial affairs, and embrace much Indian talk. They 
were not, however, connected with popular movements ; but 
they belong to the order of events that occur and leave no 
marked impress on the times. 

The crown was exceedingly jealous of any movement of 
the colonies in behalf of concert of action, without its sanc- 
tion. It was not unusual for the general assemblies to cor- 
respond with each other, without the intervention of the 
executive, in relation to the common defence. In 1697, 
the Massachusetts Assembly addressed a circular letter to 
the assemblies as far south as Maryland, describing the 
state of the colonial forces at Newfoundland, and asking 
aid for them; 1 and, in 1723, it sent a similar letter to the 
neighboring governments, inviting their co-operation in the 
war against the Indians. About this time the same assembly 
suggested that a convention of the colonies should be held, 
which was pronounced at the Board of Trade a mutinous 
proposal. 2 A convention of the ministers was held in Bos- 
ton in 1725. In view of a great and visible decay of piety, 
" the growth of many miscarriages," and the fact that forty 
years had passed since the churches had held a synod, the 
convention agreed on an address to the general court, ask- 
ing it to appoint the time to hold one. The two branches 
disagreed, and the matter was postponed. 3 On hearing 
of this proposition, the Lord's Justices, in a letter, repri- 
manded those officials who had assented to it, terming 
the proposition an invasion of his majesty's supremacy. 4 

The above narrative of events having a bearing on the 

1 Mass. Archives, Hi. 58. 2 Hutcliinson's Mass., iii. 119. 

8 Ibid., ii. 293. 4 Mass. Archives, Iii. 301. 


idea of union embraces many facts which show the condi- 
tion of self-government. The development of this prin- 
ciple was seen in social life, as the American, imbued with 
a spirit of individual freedom, went on quietly creating his 
own proper sphere of action as the unit of a free State. He 
was met by laws enacted by parliament forbidding him to 
manufacture certain articles and restricting him in the 
petty detail of trade, which provoked him to reason on 
the natural right of labor to choose its fields, and to enjoy 
its earnings. 1 His conclusions, after a manner, justified the 
practice which ignored such laws as violated the most sa- 
cred rights of mankind. 2 It is easy now to see that this 
was a part of the process in America of solving the prob- 
lem, how a large measure of individual liberty may be 
combined with obedience to every requirement of just law, 
how a high degree of self-government may exist and be con- 
sistent with the performance of every patriotic duty to the 
nation. Again, it is easy to see that this development of 
individual freedom was quietly undermining the old pater- 
nal theory of government, which was based on the idea that 
the body of the people do not possess the capacity to take 
care of their own personal concerns, but require to be con- 
trolled in their dress, diet, business, and opinions. I can, 
however, only thus casually refer to the social side of this 
subject, the theme in hand requiring an adherence to 
facts more strictly political. 

1 The succession of acts discouraging the Americans from manufacturing too 
often related to need more than a reference provoked sharp queries. In the 
" Boston Gazette" of April 29, 1765, is the following: " Whose natural right is in- 
fringed by the erection of an American windmill, or the occupation of a watermill on 
a man's own land, provided he does not flood his neighbors ? . . . A colonist cannot 
make a button, a horseshoe, nor a hob-nail, but some soot} 7 ' ironmonger or respectable 
button-maker of Britain shall bawl and squall that his honor's worship is most 
egregiously maltreated, injured, cheated, and robbed by the rascally American re- 

2 McCulloch's Smith, 261. Smith remarks (262), that, though the policy of 
Great Britain was dictated by the same mercantile spirit as that of other nations^ it 
had, upon the whole, been less illiberal and oppressive than that of any of them. 


The fidelity of the colonists to the principle of local self- 
government was constant through the whole of this period 
(1690 to 1760). It is an interesting fact, that Europeans, 
by advertisements in tracts and newspapers, were promised, 
on their arrival and settlement in America, a share in 
making the laws under which they were to live. This 
formed, to many, one of the inducements to leave their na- 
tive land, and meet the hardships in the life of a pioneer. 
The promise was vague in its terms ; but there were no 
such exceptions in the charters or the advertisements as 
that immigrants, in their new homes, should not be allowed 
to make their own clothes, should not work up their rags 
into paper, should not carry the wool which they might 
grow over a river to a market, should not sell a hat to each 
other. And even after the acts severely restrictive on labor 
were passed, it might have been said, to do away with the 
unfavorable impression, that they were in a great measure 
inoperative in the colonies. 1 It was held out as an induce- 
ment to emigrate, that the lands were so productive as to 
render it certain that industry would enable the emigrant 
to better his condition, and that he would enjoy large civil 

The colonies held these liberties under general powers 
derived from the crown. As time rolled on, they were more 
and more prized, as they were embodied in their free institu- 
tions. Ardent as was the attachment of the people of each 
colony to its local polity, still they went beyond it to meet 
and satisfy the great sentiment of country. They claimed 
to be in partnership with a noble empire. They regarded 
their connection with the mother country to be a fountain 
of good. They looked upon the English Constitution as 
their own. It was said in the press, "Our Constitution is 
English, which is another name for free and happy ; and 

1 Governor Bernard, in a letter dated Jan. 7, 1764, says, " The publication of 
orders for the strict execution of the Molasses Act has caused a greater alarm in this 
country than the taking of Fort William Henry did in 1757." 


is without doubt the perfectcst model of civil government 
that has ever been in the world." 1 The colonists claimed 
the advantage of the great moral discoveries of Habeas 
Corpus and Trial by Jury, of a Popular Representation and 
a Free Press. 2 It was through the provisions of law that 
had grown up under their local governments that these dis- 
coveries, fraught with perennial blessings, were brought to 
their doors. In a word, they aimed to preserve their liber- 
ties and also to preserve their union with Great Britain. 
The banner of St. George was to the subject in the colonial 
age what the flag of the Stars and Stripes is to the citizen 
of the United States. 

The royal governors, in dealing with the representative 
branches of their several governments, came directly in- con- 
tact with this development of self-government. They re- 
garded some of the pretensions set up by the general 
assemblies as invasions of the royal prerogative. They 
characterized the colonies as imbued with pernicious politi- 
cal principles, as animated by a spirit of disobedience to 
law, and as aiming at throwing off their dependence on the 
crown. 3 They were continually invoking a vigorous asser- 
tion of the prerogative, or of the power of parliament, by 
remodelling the local governments, and with a view of 
checking the growth of popular power. 

These representations were sent to successive British 

1 Independent Advertiser, May 29, 1749. 

2 Sir James Mackintosh (Edinburgh Review, Oct. 1821) says, " The glory of 
England is the establishment of liberty in a great empire. To her belong the great 
moral discoveries of Habeas Corpus and Trial by Jury, of a Popular Representation 
and a Free Press. These institutions she sent forthwith her colonies into the wilder- 
ness. By these institutions they have grown into a great nation." 

8 In 1701, when a court in New Hampshire refused to allow an appeal to the 
king, the Lords of Trade wrote to Lord Bellamont, " This declining to admit appeals 
to his majesty in council is a matter that you ought very carefully to watch against 
in all your governments. It is a humor that prevails so much in proprietary and 
charter colonies, and the independency they thirst after is now so notorious, that it 
has been thought fit these considerations, together with other objections against these 
colonies should be laid before parliament ; and a bill has thereupon been brought 
into the House of Lords for re-uniting the right of government in their colonies to 
the crown." Belknap's New Hamp., i. 247. 


ministers, who were always sensitive on the point of sover- 
eignty, and were zealous for the prerogative or for the par- 
liament, as the tory or the whig schools predominated. 
Their spirit in dealing with the rising colonies is seen in the 
royal instructions, which aimed to restrain the liberty of 
the press, thus denying to the colonists freedom of mind, 
and in refusing to allow them the writ of habeas corpus, 
which deprived them of the great guard of personal lib- 
erty. 1 It is seen in the instructions that were given to the 
governors, from time to time, to maintain the prerogative ; 
in the successive measures brought forward in parliament 
to override the charters, and to enlarge the powers of the 
Board of Trade ; and in the conclusion that was reached to 
revise the local governments. At length, in 1750, at a 
meeting of the Privy Council, the Lords of Trade were di- 
rected to propose such measures as would retain and estab- 
lish the prerogative in its utmost extent throughout the 
colonies. All branches of the home government deter- 
mined to shape the colonies into new modes of being, and 
no other pattern was thought of than that of England. 2 

An exercise of the royal prerogative by the governors, 
which was regarded by the assemblies to be illegal, evoked 
in the colonies a sturdy defence of the rights that they held 
to be constitutional. The struggles between these branches 
were at times severe and acrimonious. A glance at a few 
of the issues raised, will show the political situation when 
the crown invited the assemblies to deliberate on the great 
question of union. 

In New Hampshire, the issue turned on the question of 
representation, which the crown held was a privilege that 
it might give or withhold at its pleasure, but which the 
colonies held was a right to which they were entitled under 
the law. In the course of the long controversy, the Lords 
Justices directed the governor to issue the king's writ to 

1 Chalmers's Revolt of the Colonies, i. 307. 

2 Bancroft, iv. 55, 92. 


choose representatives only to a portion of the towns, and 
this with a view to strengthen the prerogative. The people 
were so sturdy in their opposition to arbitrary power, that, 
in 1751, they were represented by royal officials to be in 
rebellion. 1 In Massachusetts, the issue for many years was 
mainly on the salary of the governors, royal instructions di- 
recting that they should be settled and made permanent, so 
that the governors might be independent of successive as- 
semblies ; while the assemblies held that the grants should 
be made annually, in order to insure responsibility. At this 
time (1754), William Shirley was the governor, who was a 
champion of the prerogative, and was the most prominent 
political character in the colonies. 2 In New York, the con- 
troversies between the two branches had been carried on 
with great heat ; and the governors repeatedly represented 
that the assembly and the people aimed to throw off his 
majesty's authority. 3 In no colony was the claim of the 
assembly to be a free deliberative body put forth earlier or 
maintained with more intelligence and tenacity than it was 
in Virginia. 4 Although there had been great political tran- 

1 Belknap (ii. 209) gives a clear view of this controversy, and remarks on the 
documents of the two parties, that the style of the governors' messages was peremp- 
tory and severe; and that the answers and remonstrances of the assemblies were 
calm but resolute, and in some instances satirical. 

2 The same party who maintained the charter-privileges in the time of Charles II. 
and James II. continued to be the advocates of popular rights under their successors. 
Minot remarks (Hist, of Mass. i. 51), "From this period (1683) we may date the 
origin of two parties, the patriots and prerogative men, between whom contro- 
versv scarcely intermitted and war never ended until the separation of the two coun- 

8 Governor Clinton, April 3, 1750 (New- York Col. Doc., vi. 556), represented to 
the Duke of Bedford that such " were the usurpations of the assembly on the pre- 
rogative, that it assumed the whole executive powers of government." James 
Alexander and Robert Morris (Dec. 23, 1746) adduced two riots at Newark as "at- 
tempts to throw off his majesty's authority and their dependence on the British 
throne," and they said that the infection was spreading. New -York Col. Doc., vi. 

4 Colonel Quarry, a judge of the admiralty, of the council of five governments 
at one time, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, in 
his memorial of 1703, says that Virginians consider their province " of far greater 
importance to her majesty than all the rest of the provinces on the Maine, and there- 


quillity in South Carolina, yet its governor complained that 
the whole power was in the hands of the people. 

It would require too much space to describe these local 
controversies. They elicited a world of political writing. 
This constitutes to-day dreary reading. The governors came 
over with high ideas of their own importance, and with not 
a little of the feudal spirit, which regarded the possessors 
of power as the holders of so much personal property that 
they might turn to their own private uses ; while the assem- 
blies were imbued with the spirit of the great idea, that 
government is an agency or trust, which was to be exercised 
for the common good. It is, however, not necessary to 
maintain that the governors were always wrong in their 
positions, or that the assemblies were always right in their 
methods ; but it was the steady aim of the governors, of 
their superiors and the end of their own action to check the 
growth of popular power, while it was the object of the 
assemblies to defend their constitutional rights. They were 
met by the indefinite, imperious, and mysterious claims of 
the royal prerogative, which were urged by needy gov- 
ernors with an arrogance and conceit that made the claims 
doubly offensive. This was occurring constantly through 
the colonial age. It is difficult to say precisely what the 
prerogative was. As defined by the great jurist of that age, 
it was something out of the ordinary course of common law, 
and inherent in the royal dignity. 1 As a practical thing, 

fore they falsely conclude that they ought to have greater privileges than the rest of 
her majesty's subjects. The assembly conclude themselves entitled to all the rights 
and privileges of an English parliament, and begin to search into the records of 
that honorable house for precedents to govern themselves by. The council have 
vanity enough to think that they almost stand upon equal terms with the Right 
Honorable the House of Lords. These false and pernicious notions, if not timely 
prevented, will have very ill consequences. . . . As I have already hinted to your 
Lordships, commonwealth notions improve daily; and, if they be not checked in 
time, the rights and privileges of English subjects will be thought too narrow." 
3 Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 233, 235. 

1 Blackstone began to read lectures on law in 1753. He thus defines the 
prerogative: "By the word prerogative we usually understand that special pre- 
eminence which the king hath over and above all other persons, and out of the 


embodied in royal instructions and applied to the detail of 
affairs, it embraced well nigh the whole field of administra- 
tion. It was in theory utterly hostile to the principle of local 
self-government. In meeting it, the members of the assem- 
blies often manifested a zeal and an ability worthy of admi- 
ration. In doing this, they were ever mindful to keep in view 
their readiness to recognize a just claim for the prerogative. 1 
Indeed, whether the colonists spoke through the assembly 
or the press, the liberty which they defended never meant 
an absence of law. A sentence of the press runs, " It would 
fill us with the deepest shame and grief, could we be justly 
charged with really opposing that sacred ordinance from 
heaven, civil government." 2 

The executive speeches and the replies of the assemblies 
elicited in these local contests were widely circulated in the 
press. The newspapers had a too intimate connection 

ordinary course of common law, in right of his regal dignity. It signifies in its 
etymology (from prce and rogo) something that is required and demanded before 
or in preference to others. And hence it follows that it must be in its nature 
singular and excentrical; that it can only be Mpplied to those rights and capacities 
which the king enjoys alone in contradistinction to others, and not to those which 
he enjoys in common with any of his subjects: for, if once any prerogative of the 
crown could be held in common with the subject, it would cease to be prerogative 
any longer. And. therefore, Finch lays it down as a maxim, that the prerogative is 
that law in the case of the kin?, which is law in no case of the subject." Commen- 
taries, i. 239. On which Professor St. George Tucker (ed. of Blackstone, ii. 239), 
whose notes were printed in 1803, remarks, " This definition of prerogative is 
enough to make a citizen of the United States shudder at the recollection that he 
was born under a government in which such doctrines are received as catholic." 

1 The tone of the prerogative men and the assemblies is illustrated in the mes- 
sages that passed, 1753, between the executive and the legislature of New York. The 
lieut.-governor, James DeLancy, in a speech, said, " His majesty is displeased at the 
neglect and contempt shown to his royal commission and instructions by your pass- 
ing laws of so extraordinary a nature, and by your unwarrantable proceedings." 
The council replied, that its action was taken from their view of the exigency in 
affa'rs, and " not with any view to encroach on his majesty's prerogative; " and the 
house replied, that it was "greatly at a loss to discover in what instance the peace 
and tranquillity of the colony had been disturbed, or wherein order and govern- 
ment had been subverted, or what there was to justify certain malicious misrepre- 
sentations to their most gracious sovereign," having "not the least thought or most 
distant inclination to invade, lessen, or diminish any of his majesty's just or right- 
ful prerogatives " Boston Evening Post, Nov. 26, 1753. 

2 Independent Advertiser, Dec. 5, 1749. 



with the formation of public sentiment to allow their ap- 
pearance to pass without remark. The first permanent 
newspaper in the colonies was established in Boston in 
1704, and in about half a century journals were printed 
in ten of the thirteen colonies. 1 This is the most efficient 
instrument used in the political world ; for " nothing but a 
newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds 
at the same moment." 2 It soon began to play a great part 
in American history. The springs of this history are not 
to be found so much in the foresight and wise planning of a 
few, however great and essential may have been individual 
worth and influence, as in the impulses and aims of the 
many. At epochs in public affairs, the body of the people, 
at the call of some great right, or by the commission o 
some great wrong, have instinctively and spontaneously 
joined in a common effort, when society has been impelled 
forward by a master-passion, until the culmination of great 
crises. In these periods, the newspaper has been a power- 
ful agency, not merely by passionate appeals, but by virtue 
of its prime office of collecting and circulating intelligence ; 

1 The first newspaper that was printed in the colonies was entitled " Public 
Occurrences, both Foreign and Domestic," dated Boston, Thursday, Sept. 25, 1690,, 
One number only was printed. It is republished in the " Historical Magazine" for 
August, 1857, from a copy made by Dr. Samuel A. Green, from an impression pre- 
served in the Colonial State Paper Office in London. The first permanent news- 
paper was " The Boston News Letter." The first number is dated " from Monday,, 
April 17 to Monday, April 24, 1704." The second was " The Boston Gazette," Dec. 21.. 
1719. The first prinred in Phi'adelphia was " The American," Dec. 22, 1719. The 
first in New York was" The New-York Gazette from Monday, Oct. 16 to Oct. 23, 
1725;" the first in Maryland was " The Maryland Gazette," printed at Annapolis in 
June, 1728 ; the first in South Carolina was " The South-Carolina Gazette," printe I at 
Charleston, Jan. 8, 1732; the first one in Rhode Island was " The Rhode-Island 
Gazette," printed at Newport, Sept. 27, 1732; the first in Virginia was "The Vir- 
ginia Gazette," printed at Williamsburg in 1736; the first in Connecticut was 
" The Connecticut Gazette," Jan. 1, 1755, printed at New Haven; the first in North 
Carolina was " The North-Carolina Gazette," printed at Newbern, December, 1755; 
the first in New Hampshire was "The New Hampshire Gazette," printed at Ports- 
mouth, and dated " Fridav, August, 1756." Thus, prior to 1760, journals had been 
printed in all the colonies except Delaware, New Jersey, and Georgia. Thomas's 
History of Printing. 

2 De Tocqueville's Democracy, ii. 135. 



by disseminating the facts that enabled the public opinion 
of one community or political centre to act on other com- 
munities. In thus adding to the momentum, the newspaper 
chronicles the progress of popular movements, and, after 
its temporary office, it remains to do historical service. It 
is a dial which measures and marks the play of the inner 
forces of society, as the meter marks the passage of the 
sources of light. The pages of an unfettered press are 
a mirror which reflects the past of a collective life, when 
it was stirred by fear, when it glowed with hope, when it 
was inspired into heroic action by the presence and the 
power of great ideas. 

The press, about a century ago, was circulating the great 
fiacts that France had communication by water along the 
whole continent from Cape Breton to the mouth of the 
Mississippi River, and, contrary to the spirit of solemn trea- 
ties, was building forts and effecting settlements on the 
Ohio. 1 It was said that this was the finishing stroke of 
a series of ambitious and dreaded encroachments which 
" called aloud upon the whole British continent of America 
to rise as one man," and enter into a well-concerted project 
of resistance. 2 Several governors sent accurate and minute 
relations of this aggression to the Lords of Trade. 

That Board had for many years been indifferent to this 
progress of the French. It was said, that, while England 
readily granted generous subsidies to petty German princes, 
to preserve the balance of power in Europe, it neglected to 
maintain its undoubted rights in America. 3 In 1748, Lord 
Halifax was placed at its head; 4 and on the llth of March, 
1752, it was intrusted, by an order of the Privy Council, 
with the duties of corresponding with the colonies except 

1 It was stated in the " Gentleman's Magazine " for January, 1752, page 40, that 
the French, with an army, had gone into the southwest parts of North America, and 
were building forts. 

2 The New-York Weekly Gazette of Sept. 23, 1754, in an elaborate summary of 
the state of the continent. 

8 London Magazine, August, 1754. 4 Bancroft, iv. 36. 


on special occasions, and with the nomination of the entire 
list of their civil officers. Halifax gave much attention to 
colonial affairs. He looked upon America as a vast continent 
which Great Britain might rule and use for its own benefit ; 
and he soon promised to consider those defects in the local 
constitutions which embodied elements regarded by him as 
destructive of all order and government. 1 One of the mem- 
bers of this Board was Charles Townshend, a young orator 
of brilliant talents, who had made his mark in parliament. 
He was indefatigable in the study of colonial questions, 
and was warmly in favor of remodelling the local govern- 
ments. The Lords of Trade were occupied with schemes 
for a new colonial administration, when the expulsion of the 
English traders from the valley of the Miami prompted 
royal officials in America to ask for specific instructions to 
regulate their conduct. 

The crown at length determined to contest the claims of 
France. The Secretary of State, Earl Holdernesse, in a cir- 
cular, 2 dated Aug. 28, 1753, addressed to the governors, in- 

* Bancroft, iv. 41. 

2 The circulars named in the text are connected in the documents of the conven- 
tion, and constitute the official calls. In the circular of the Earl of Holdernesse to 
the governors in America (Whitehall, Aug. 28, 1753), he said, " In case the subjects 
of any foreign prince or State should presume to make any encroachments on the 
limits of his majesty's dominions, or to erect forts on his majesty's land, or commit 
any other act of hostility, you are immediately to represent the injustice of such 
proceeding, and to require them to forthwith desist from any such unlawful under- 
taking; but if ... they should still persist, you are then to draw forth the armed 
force of the province, and to use your best endeavors to repel force by force. But, as 
it is his majesty's determination not to be the aggressor, I have the king's com- 
mands most strictly to enjoin you not to make use of the armed force under your 
direction excepting within the undoubted limits of his majesty's dominions. ... In 
case ... of any hostile attempts, you are immediately to assemble the general assem- 
bly, and lay before them the necessity of a mutual assistance, and engage them to 
grant such supplies as the exigency of affairs may require." 

The Lords of Trade sent to the governor of New York an elaborate letter, direct- 
ing a congress to be called, dated Sept. 18, 1754; and the following circular was sent 
to the governors of New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Mary- 
land, and Pennsylvania: 

To Jonathan Belcher, Esquire, Governor of New Jersey. 

SlK, His majesty having been pleased to order a sum of money to be issued for presents 
to the Six Nations of Indians, and to direct his governor of New York to hold an interview 


structed them first to protest against any encroachments on 
his majesty's dominions ; and, if this should prove unavail- 
ing, then to use their best endeavors to muster the militia 
of the colonies, and repel force by force. The Lords of 
Trade, in a letter of the 18th of September, 1753> sent 
to several of the governors, required them to recommend to 
their respective assemblies to appoint commissioners to meet 
in convention, and' hold a treaty with the Six Nations ; and, 
by making presents and in other ways, prevent them from 
aiding the French, or uniting with the Indians under French 
influence. The objects of the proposed convention, more 
precisely specified, were to determine whether the colonies 
would " confirm and establish the ancient friendship of the 
Five Nations," and would " enter into articles of union and 
confederation with each other for the mutual defence of his 
majesty's subjects and interests in North America, as well 
in time of peace as war." The governor of New York, in 
a separate letter, was directed to fix on the time and place 
for holding the convention, and " to take care that all the 
provinces be comprised, if practicable, in one general trea- 
ty." This was the second call fur an American congress 
based on the principle of representation, or for a body to be 
composed of delegates chosen by the several assemblies. 

with them for delivering those presents, for burying the hatchet, and for renewing the cove- 
nant chain with them, we think it our duty to acquaint you therewith. And as we find it has 
been usual, upon former occasions, when an interview has been held with those Indians, for 
all his majesty's colonies whose interest and security is connected with and depends upon 
them, to join in such interview ; and as the present disposition of those Indians, and the 
attempts which have been made to withdraw them from the British interest, appears to us to 
make such a general interview more particularly necessary at this time, we desire you will lay 
this matter before the council and general assembly of the province under your government, 
and recommend to them forthwith to make a proper provision for appointing commissioners, 
to be joined with those of the other governments, for renewing thn covenant chain with the 
Six Nations, and for making such presents to them as has been usual on the like occasions. 
And we desire, that, in the choice and nomination of commissioners, you will take care that 
they are men of character, ability, and integrity, and well acquainted with Indian affairs. 

As to the time and place of meeting, it is left to the governor of New York to fix it ; and he 
has orders to give you early notice of it. We are, sir. 

Your very loving friends and humble servants. 

WHITEHALL, Sept. 18, 1753. DUPPLIN. 


This proposition of the crown connected two objects, 
which require to be kept distinct from each other in a nar- 
rative, as they were in the public mind. 

Over half a century before, the colonists had earnestly 
called- the attention of the ministry to the claims and en- 
croachments of the French. One of their early petitions to 
the king termed Canada " the unhappy fountain whence had 
issued all their miseries," 1 and since the sack of Schenec- 
tady, its reduction had been a passion with them. The blood 
they had shed in the battle-fields of three colonial wars 
attested their heroism and patriotism. They welcomed the 
decision of the crown as implying an assurance that a great 
burden was about to be removed, and some of the colonies 
enthusiastically prepared to second the efforts of the gov- 
ernment. It is only necessary to refer to the interesting 
train of events that opened the great field of war ; the pro- 
ceedings of the Ohio Company in occupying a large tract 
of western territory ; the expulsion by the French of Ameri- 
can traders from the banks of the Ohio ; the mission of 
George Washington, and his early campaigns in the wilds 
of America. A speech he delivered to his command, on 
formally proclaiming war, is characteristic of the patriotism 
that was personified in his long career, and of the loyalty 
that animated the Americans. " Let us," Washington said, 
" show our willing obedience to the best of kings, and, by a 
strict attachment to his royal commands, demonstrate the 
love and loyalty we bear to his sacred person ; let us, by 
rules of unerring bravery, strive to merit his royal favor, 
and a better establishment as a reward for our services." 2 

1 Representation of Lieutenant-governor and Council of Massachusetts to the 
king, Sept. 24, 1756. This prays his majesty " to take under his royal consideration 
the reducing of Canada." 

2 War was not formally declared between France and England, until May 19, 1756. 
Washington, then a colonel, was at Winchester. The address contained in the 
following letter is not referred to by Marshall. Sparks, Irving, or other biographers 
whose works I have seen. I copy from the " Pennsylvania Gazette " of Sept. 16, 
1756: " Winchester, Aug. 17, 1756. On Sunday, Colonel Washington having re- 
ceived his majesty's declaration of Avar against the French king, with the governor's 


There was not merely a public opinion in favor of the expul- 
sion of the French, but a conviction that it was essential to 
the security of the colonies. 

The proposition of the crown for a convention to form a 
union was differently received. It was submitted and ear- 
nestly urged by governors who had been zealous for the royal 
prerogative. Indeed, the executive whom the crown had 
instructed to rule New York in the spirit of James II. , was 
selected to take the lead in this vital measure. 1 The Ian- 
command to proclaim it in the most solemn manner, he ordered the three companies 
of the Virginia regiment at this place to appear under arms on the grand parade, at 
three o'clock on the evening of the next day; when, attended by the principal gentle- 
men of this town, they marched in regular order to Fort London, where, the soldiery 
being properly drawn up, tlie declaration was read aloud, his majesty's and many 
other loyal healths were drank, success to his majesty's arms, and a total extirpa- 
tion of the French out of America, under a triple discharge of the artillery and 
three rounds of musketry, with loud acclamations of the people. After this, they 
marched in regular order round the town, proclaimed it at the cross streets, and, being 
returned to the grand parade, it was again read, and the men dismissed by Colonel 
Washington with the following exhortation: 'You see, gentlemen soldiers, that it 
has pleased our most gracious sovereign to declare war in form against the French 
king, and (for divers good causes, but more particularly for their ambitious usurpa- 
tions and encroachments on his American dominions) to pronounce all the said 
French king's subjects and vassals to be enemies to his crown and dignity, and hath 
willed and required all his subjects and people, and in a more especial manner com- 
manded his captain-general of his forces, his governors, and all other his command- 
ers and officers, to do and execute all acts of hostility in the prosecution of this just 
and honorable war; and though our utmost endeavors can contribute but little to 
the advancement of his majesty's honor and the interest of his governments, yet let 
us show our willing obedience to the best of kings, and, by a strict attachment to 
his royal commands, demonstrate the love and loyalty we bear to his sacred person ; 
let us, bv rules of unerring bravery, strive to merit his royal favor, and a better estab- 
lishment as a reward for our services.' " 

1 The spirit of the government is embodied in the instructions of the Lords 
of Trade to the governor of New York, dated Aug. 13, 1753; and it is worthy of 
remark that they were printed in the American papers and in the " Gentleman's Maga- 
zine " of February, 1754. In the preamble, his majesty avers that the assembly had 
"trampled upon" the royal prerogative and authority; had assumed to them- 
selves the disposal of the public money; and that some of the council had "joined 
and concurred with the assembly "in these unwarrantable measures. The gover- 
nor was directed to recommend a permanent revenue for defraying the necessary 
charges of the government, and to take care that "such law shall be indefinite and 
without limitation." All moneys raised for the supply of the government were to 
be applied by a warrant from the governor and council, though the assembly were 
to be permitted, from time to time, " to view and examine the accounts of money 
disposed of." Horace Walpole said that " these instructions seemed better calculated 
for the latitude of Mexico, and for a Spanish tribunal, than for a free, rich, British 


guage of the governors, in submitting the proposition to the 
assemblies, was earnest, high-toned, and patriotic, and con- 
tained no allusions to alterations in the local constitutions 
or to taxation. Their spirit is seen in the messages of 
Governors Shirley of Massachusetts, and Belcher of New 
Jersey. They portrayed in glowing terms the progress of 
the French, as marked by their line of forts* from Canada 
to the mouth of the Mississippi ; their denial of the right of 
the English to trade with the Indians ; the danger the colo- 
nies would be in, should the sixteen thousand warriors of 
the Six Nations go over to the French ; the wisdom of estab- 
lishing " one general league of friendship comprising all 
his majesty's colonies," and the proof of paternal care his 
majesty had given in directing the governors to promote 
this union. " In forming this union," Shirley said, " there 
is no time to be lost. The French seem to have advanced 
themselves further towards making themselves masters of 
the continent within the last five or six years than they 
have done since the first beginning of their settlements upon 
it." These messages announced that the convention would 
be held at Albany on the 14th of June. 1 The enthusiasm 
in behalf of this measure was confined to the circle of royal 
officials. The newspapers contain but few references to it. 
I have not met with an account of a single public meeting 
in favor of it. The " Philadelphia Gazette," conducted by 
Franklin, had the union device with the motto " Join or 
Die;" 2 and the measure was urged in pamphlets. Only 
seven of the assemblies appointed commissioners. 

1 The speech of Governor Shirley is dated April 2, 1754, and occupies one half 
of the "Boston Gazette" of April 30. The speech of Governor Belcher of New 
Jersey is dated April 25, 1754; and it gave rise to an acrimonious dispute between 
the executive and the assembly. The messages that passed between them were 
copied into the Boston papers. 

2 This device is appended to a spirited piece, dated Philadelphia, May 9, describ- 
ing the terror occasioned by the assaults of the French, copied into the " Boston 
Gazette" of Mav 21, 1754. The following is an extract: ''The confidence in the 
French in this undertaking seems well grounded on the present disunited state of the 
British colonies, and the extreme difficulty of bringing so many different govern- 


The Congress met on the 19th of June, 1 1754, at Albany, 
an old, compact Dutch city of about three hundred houses 
and twenty-six hundred inhabitants. 2 It was enclosed by 
pickets on the side of the forest, was protected on the other 
side by the Hudson River, and had a fort built of stone. 
Here the whites for a long time had held treaties with the 
Indians. It was soon to be the base of important military 
operations. There was then a condition of actual war. 
France was moving troops into the Valley of the Missis- 
sippi ; and all the colonies were in the utmost confusion and 
hurry from the approaching danger. 3 Some were sending out 
their youth to the frontier ; but others, under various pre- 
texts, were shamefully neglectful of their duty. 4 In Maine, 
Governor Shirley, at the head of a thousand militia, was 
preparing to meet attacks in that quarter. In the basin of 
the Ohio, Washington, in the skirmish with the French 

merits and assemblies to agree in any speedy and effectual measures for our common 
defence and security, while our enemies have the very great advantage of being 
under one direction, with one council and one purse." 

The press of this period contain spirited appeals. The "Pennsylvania Gazette " 
of Sept. 5, 1774, says that its "object is to present such considerations as tend to 
rouse you up from that lethargy which seems everywhere to prevail amongst us." 
" The sword is coming, the alarm is sounded, and, if you will not hear, you must 
answer for the blood of all those who shall hereafter be slain through your neglect: 
you will have to answer both for the temporal and spiritual ruin of your posterity." 
The " New- York Weekly Gazette " (September 23) had a " summary view " of the 
state of the Continent, with reference to the French. It says: "Within the legal 
and rightful dominions of our king are the forts and settlements which this perfid- 
ious and restless nation have erected, and are now strengthening themselves in the 
possession of, at Ohio, as it is commonly called. This is the finishing stroke of 
their ambitious and highly to be dreaded encroachments. This calls aloud upon the 
whole British continent of America, to rise as one man, to enter into a well-concerted, 
an united, an active, a vigorous and resolute plan, against these, our faithless, usurp 
ing, insolent enemies." 

1 Though the convention was called for the 14th, the members did not meet until 
the 19th. 

2 New-York Doc. Hist., i. 696. 

8 London Magazine for August, 1754, 361. Letter, dated Williamsburgh, June 4. 

4 1 Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 72. " They contemned the power of Canada; confided 
in the number of their inhabitants; inattentive were they to the inconveniences of 
an endless frontier; and, in short, entirely unacquainted with the situation of the in- 
. land country. The waters of the Ohio, before this period, were scarcely known, 
save to a few Indian traders ; and the generality deemed those French settlements 
too remote to be the object of dread, and a matter of insignificant moment." 


under Jumonville, had fired the shot which proved the sig- 
nal of the first war of revolution. 1 

The Congress, convened at the City Hall, consisted of five 
commissioners from Massachusetts, four from New Hamp- 
shire, three from Connecticut, two from Rhode Island, four 
from Pennsylvania, two from Maryland, and the lieutenant- 
governor, with four of the council, of New York, twenty- 
five in all ; among them were some of the most considerable 
men, both for abilities and fortunes, of North America. 2 
Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts had been in public life 
for eighteen years, had rendered valuable service, and had 
evinced such varied ability, that he was spoken of as the 
greatest and best man in America. 3 Theodore Atkinson, 
the chief-justice of New Hampshire, was eminent as a jurist; 
and Meshech Weare, speaker of the assembly of this colony, 
was subsequently one of the substantial patriots of the Revo- 
lution, as was Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island, who signed 
the Declaration of Independence. Roger Wolcott, jr., was a 
judge of the Connecticut superior court. James Delancy, 
of great fortune and large ambition, the lieutenant-gover- 
nor of New York, was figuring conspicuously as a political 
leader, and was a champion of the prerogative. William 
Smith of the council, famed for classic lore and eminent as 
a lawyer, had been one of the counsel for Zenger, in the 
great trial involving the liberty of the press. William John- 
son, soon to be made a baronet, was born in Ireland; but 
had lived many years in the Valley of the Mohawk like a 

1 Bancroft, iv. 118. The " London Magazine " for August, 1754, has Washing- 
ton's letter to his brother of May 31, in which he says, "I heard the bullets whistle; 
and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound." 

2 1 Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 77. The commissioners were, from Massachusetts, 
Samuel Welles, John Chandler, Thomas Hutchinson, Oliver Partridge, and John 
Worthington ; from New Hampshire, Theodore Atkinson, Richard Wibird, Meshech 
Weare, Henry Sherburn, jr. ; from Connecticut, William Pitkin, Roger Wolcott, jr., 
Elisha Williams; Rhode Island, Stephen Hopkins, Martin Howard, jr. ; Pennsyl- 
vania, John Penn, Richard Peters, Isaac Norris, Benjamin Franklin; Maryland, 
Benjamin Tasker, Albert Barnes; New York, James Delancy, Joseph Murray, Wil- 
liam Johnson, John Chambers, William Smith. 

3 John Adams's Works, ii. 189. 


chief, talking eloquently to the Indians in their own lan- 
guage, a decided Mormon" in his domestic relations, and 
wielding so great an influence, that it was said Iris words 
made the villages tremble. Benjamin Tasker of Maryland 
had a high legal reputation. The member who most nearly 
personified the American was Benjamin Franklin, like Hop- 
kins, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His 
discoveries in science had won for him a wide and noble 
fame; and the press in Europe and America were circulating 
tributes to his genius. 1 He was one of the two postmaster- 
generals of the colonies. His unrivalled sagacity, practical 
good sense, large experience, generous aims, and steady 
purpose to promote the good of mankind, shed lustre on the 
congress. This body was the most deserving of respect of 
any that had convened in America, whether considered in 
reference to the colonies represented, the character of the 
members, or the purposes for which it was called. 2 It was 
compared to one of the ancient Greek conventions, held 
to support their expiring liberty against the power of the 
Persian Empire. The speakers were not many ; but in the 
debates some spoke with singular energy and eloquence, 
and all were imbued with a patriotic spirit. 3 

The representatives of six of the colonies brought with 
them commissions signed by their respective governors. 
Massachusetts authorized action to be taken in concert with 
all or with any of the British colonies, but required ad- 
herence to such instructions as the assembly from time to 
time should give. New Hampshire conferred power to act 
on all- matters relating to the objects of the convention. 
Connecticut gave authority to take proper measures in pur- 
suance of instructions from the assembly. Rhode Island 

1 The preface to the " Gentleman's Magazine " for 1753 contains verses in which 
there is a reference to Franklin; and the February number of 1754, of the same 
magazine, has a tribute addressed to him, signed C. W., Cooper River, South Caro- 
lina, Sept. 20, 1753. 

2 Hutchinson's Mass., iii. 21. 8 1 Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 77. 


authorized action with the other colonies necessary to carry 
out the designs of the crown as expressed in the circular 
of the Earl of Holdernesse. Pennsylvania conferred full 
power to treat with the Indians ; but its commission did 
not refer to the question of union ; and that of Maryland 
required its delegates to observe the propositions that might 
be submitted for a general scheme for concert of action, 
and to report on their character. 

The members do not appear to have chosen a presiding 
officer. The official journal says, that a congress was held 
by the Honorable James Delancy, lieutenant-governor of 
New York. When he met with the members, he presided. 
On the third day of the meeting, Peter Wraxall, clerk of 
the city of Albany, was chosen secretary ; and the governor 
proposed, that, to avoid disputes about the precedency of 
the colonies, the commissioners should be named in the 
order of their situation from north to south. At the first 
meeting, the governor produced a letter from the Lords 
of Trade, defining the objects of the convention ; and the 
two sessions of that day were occupied mainly in consider- 
ing Indian affairs. 

The details relative to the treaty with the chiefs are quite 
voluminous. Messengers had been sent to their castles or 
villages, asking their attendance ; but they did not arrive 
until the last of the month. The delay was attributed by 
some to fear and by others to art. At length they came, 
though in fewer numbers than was expected, when Hen- 
dricks, a great Mohawk sachem, apologized for the delay. 
On the morning of the 29th of June, twenty-four of the 
commissioners, among them Franklin, met about a hundred 
and fifty of the chiefs. The governor presided, having two 
of his council on each side near him, and the members 
ranged next to these councillors. 1 The proceedings were 

1 1 Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 76. This " Review of the Military Operations," &c., was 
written by an eye-witness, and probably by William Smith, and printed in a pam- 
phlet iii London, in 1757. Coll. New- York Hist. Soc., iii. 361. 


conducted with great solemnity. The governor read a long 
speech, and delivered presents, which were of vast value 
compared with former gifts, and which pleased the Indians. 
But they taunted the English for their defenceless condition. 
" Look at the French," Hendricks said. " They are men ; 
they are fortifying everywhere. But we are ashamed to 
say it you are all like women." The conference was con- 
tinued several days, and with a satisfactory result. At its 
close, Hendricks, in expressing the wish that the tree of 
friendship they had planted might grow to a great height, 
said, " I will just tell you what a people we were formerly. 
If any of our enemies arose against us, we had no occasion 
to lift up our whole hand against them ; for our little finger 
was sufficient. And as we have now made so strong a con- 
federacy, if we are truly earnest therein, we may retrieve 
the ancient glory of the Five Nations." 

While the proceedings relative to the Indians were going 
on, the congress considered the other great object for which 
it was called. It first unanimously resolved, that a union 
of all the colonies was absolutely necessary for their general 
defence and security. It then appointed a committee to 
receive all the schemes that had been offered, digest them 
into one general plan, and report it to the Board. The 
delegates from each colony selected from their number a 
member of the committee. It consisted of Hutchinson, 
Atkinson, Pitkin, Hopkins, Franklin, Tasker, and Smith, 
a rare combination of character, intellect, learning, and 
experience in public affairs. The two political schools were 
about equally represented in the committee. Hutchinson, 
soon to be a champion of an arbitrary ministry, and Frank- 
lin, soon to be a tribune of the people, were two of the 
strongest men of their respective parties. They brought to 
their work eminent ability. Both had large influence in 
their local assemblies. They recognized the value of union. 
They saw that a thirst for liberty was the ruling passion of 
the age, and that a mighty empire was rising in America. 


In Hutchinson it was the vision of a clear intellect dis- 
trusting the capacity and intelligence of the people. In 
Franklin it was the insight of a philosopher having faith 
in human progress, and determined to labor for the liberties 
of his country. 

In the deliberations of the committee, it appeared that 
the plan which received the most favor was one prepared by 
Franklin, who gives this account of it : " In our way thither, 
I projected and drew a plan for the union of all the colo- 
nies under one government, so far as might be necessary 
for defence, and other important general purposes. As we 
passed through New York, I had there shown my project to 
Mr. James Alexander and Mr. Kennedy, two gentlemen of 
great knowledge in public affairs ; and, being fortified by 
their approbation, I ventured to lay it before the congress." 1 
Franklin had long been identified with the local government 
of Pennsylvania. He had, however, given more attention 
to natural science than to general politics. His idea of 
having a legislature of only one branch, and his views as* to 
the practicability of an American representation in parlia- 
ment, were not in accordance with those of his countrymen 
generally. His plan, and his argument for it, 2 however, 
show that he grasped the idea of forming a self-sustaining 
general government, which, while recognizing the inviola- 
bility of the local governments, should act on the individual 

The committee, four days after its appointment, reported to 
the congress " short hints of a scheme" for a union, of which 
copies were taken by the members. There was a question 
whether an act of parliament was not necessary to establish 
such a union. It was held, that charters and commissions 
of the crown, under which the colonies exercised powers of 

1 Autobiography, Bigelow's edition, 294. Franklin says that the committee re- 
ported his plan with a few amendments. I have not met with this report, unless it 
be the paper entitled " Short Hints," in Sparks's " Works of Franklin," iii. 27. 

2 Sparks's Works of Franklin, iii. 51. 


government, gave no authority to form one constitution for 
the whole ; and though it might be said, that, if the king 
could grant powers of government to each colony separately, 
he could do the same to them collectively, yet it would 
be altering powers given by charter to create a new gov- 
ernment over the people for any purposes covered by the 
charter. It was said, that the power of parliament had not 
been called in question ; 1 and on the second of July the con- 
gress voted, that the Board proceed to form a union of the 
colonies, to be established by an act of parliament. Long 
debates followed on the hints that had been submitted. On 
the fourth of July, when all the members but the lieutenant- 
governor were present, the question was discussed in two 
sessions held in the morning and afternoon. The debate 
was continued from time to time until the ninth of July, 
when a plan was agreed upon. Franklin was then de- 
sired to make a draught of it. He did not attend the ses- 
sion the next day, the journal of the Congress says, 
being absent by appointment. He reported, on the tenth, a 
Plan of a Union in a new form. This was undoubtedly the 
form that was adopted. It was considered, paragraph by 
paragraph, during the morning session, when all the mem- 
bers were present, and the debate was resumed in the after- 

The preamble of this plan states the purpose of making 
application for an act of parliament, by virtue of which one 
general government might be formed in America, including 
all the colonies, within and under which each colony might 
retain its constitution. 

The local constitutions were recognized in several of the 
provisions. The representatives of the people of each colony, 
in their own assembly, were to choose, every three years, 
members to form a Grand Council ; the general govern- 
ment was prohibited from impressing men without the con- 
sent of the local legislature ; any colony, on an emergency, 

1 Hutchinson's Mass., iii. 22. 


might defend itself; and the particular military as well as 
civil establishments in each colony were to remain in their 
present state, " the general constitution notwithstanding ; " 
with this proviso, however : " except in the particulars 
wherein a change might be directed " by the contemplated 
act of parliament. 

The union element was embodied in a Grand Council, to 
meet once a year. It was to have the power to choose a 
speaker, and was not to be dissolved, prorogued, or con- 
tinued in session longer than six weeks, without its own con- 
sent, or the special command of the crown. It was to be 
empowered to make treaties with the Indians, regulate trade 
with them, buy lands of them for the crown, and author- 
ize new settlements ; and for these purposes to make laws ; 
to levy duties, imposts, or taxes ; to nominate all civil offi- 
cers who were to act under the constitution, and to approve 
of all military officers ; to appoint a general treasurer, and a 
special treasurer in each government ; and to have a joint 
voice in the expenditure of the moneys raised ; to enlist 
and pay soldiers and build forts. The laws were not to be 
repugnant to those of England, but as near as possible to 
be agreeable to them ; and they were to be submitted to the 
king, and, if not disapproved within three years, to remain 
in force. 1 

The executive power was to be vested in a president- 
general, appointed and supported by the crown. He was 
to nominate military officers ; commission all officers ; man- 
age, with the advice of the Grand Council, Indian affairs ; 
have a negative on all the acts of the Grand Council ; and 
to carry their acts into execution. 

This plan was strenuously opposed by the Connecticut 

1 Franklin (Sparks's Works, iii. 61), in his interesting commentary on his plan, 
says, that, in empowering "the president-general and grand council" to make laws 
for laying and collecting general duties and taxes, " it was not intended to interfere 
with the constitution and government of the particular colonies," which were to be 
" left to their own laws, and to lay, levy, and apply their own taxes as before." 


delegates, 1 who urged, at length, that it would be impractica- 
ble for the president and council to defend and provide for 
a union so large as to extend from Nova Scotia to Georgia ; 
that it would be detrimental for this power to appoint 
and commission all the military officers of so large a gov- 
ernment ; that the population of the country was very 
numerous, and was doubling every twenty-five years, and 
to unite this growing power under one head might in time 
be dangerous ; that the negative of the president might be 
ruinous ; and that the power of levying taxes was a " very 
extraordinary thing," and against the rights of Englishmen, 
which were highly prized by the people, who had a due 
sense of their dependence on the mother-country, and de- 
lighted in obedience to, and admired the protection and 
privileges of, the laws of England. 2 The plan was also op- 
posed by Lieutenant-governor Delancy, who would have 
reserved to the colonial governors a negative on the election 
of representatives to the Grand Council. 3 

On the afternoon of the tenth of July, the congress voted 
that the commissioners should lay copies of this plan before 
their respective constituents for their consideration, and 
that the secretary should transmit a copy of it to each of the 
colonies which had not sent commissioners, with the view of 
obtaining such alterations as might be thought necessary ; 4 
after which it was intended to transmit the plan to Eng- 
land to be perfected. On the eleventh of July the congress 

1 It is remarkable, that Franklin (Sparks's Works, i. 177), Hutchinson (Hist. 
Mass. iii. 23), members of the convention, and Thomas Pownall (Administration of 
the Colonies, ed. 1774), who was present, say that the plan was unanimously adopted. 
Smith, also a member (Hist. New York, ii. 182) says, that every member except 
Delancy consented to the plan. But the report of the Connecticut members of the 
House (1 Mass. Soc. Coll., vii. 207-213), expressly says, that the delegates of that 
colony insisted "at the congress" on their objections, which they thought were never 
answered or obviated, and that they never gave any consent. 

2 i Mass. Hist. Coll., vii. 207-213. 

3 Smith (New York, ii. 183) says Delancy made no great opposition. Bancroft, 
iv. 124. 

4 Journal of Proceedings. 


adjourned. 1 Only its general results were announced in 
the journals. 2 

The plan was then earnestly recommended to the people. 
A citation will give the spirit of the patriotic appeals. One 
writer in the press said, " I hope and pray the Almighty, 
that the British colonies on this continent may cease im- 
politically and ungenerously to consider themselves as dis- 
tinct States, with narrow, separate, and independent views ; 
. . . that they will unite like brother protestants and brother 
subjects, at least in this critical and important crisis, rouse 
up the English lion in each other's breasts, . . . and. thereby 

1 Sparks's Franklin, iii. 24. 

2 I have confined the narrative in the text mainly to matters connected with my 
theme. Elaborate and interesting pnpers on the rights of England to the soil, the 
claims of France, and methods for the general defence, were submitted to the con- 
vention, which appear in the " Journal of the Proceedings." This journal has been 
printed from copies taken to the several governments: in the " Pennsylvania Ar- 
chives; " in the " New-York Documents," edited by Callaghan and Broadhead; and, 
excepting the last day's proceedings, in the " Massachusetts Historical Society's Col- 
lections," 3d series, vol. v. The Plan of Union is in Pownall's " Administration of 
the Colonies," ed. 1768, App. iv. In the " American Museum " for February, 1789, 
the writer of a communication dated " New York, Oct. 28, 1788," says that he was 
surprised that the Albany Plan "had lain dormant and unnoticed among all the 
publications on the subject of the new government." This number contains a part 
of the plan, with accompanying papers, among which is a reprint of Franklin's 
" Commentary." The April number contains the conclusion, with a note, dated' 
Philadelphia, April 9, 1789, evidently written or dictated by Franklin, containing 
speculations on what might have taken place if this plan, or something like it, had 
not been rejected. Compare this with Sparks's Works of Franklin, i. 177, 178. 

Thomas Pownall, subsequently governor of Massachusetts, was present at this 
congress. He submitted to it a paper on American affairs, which was criticised 
(1 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., vii. 87, 88) as loose and undigested, and containing 
sentiments unintelligible to a North-American understanding. It was printed in 
New York in February, 1756, and in the " Gentleman's Magazine " for May, 1756. 

The "Boston Gazette" of the 23d of July, 1754, has the following: "This day 
sev'nnight came to town the Hon. Thomas Hutchinson, Esq., judge of probate for 
this county, and one of the commissioners at the late convention at Albany. We 
are informed: That the Indians had all left that city in a good temper; but that a 
much smaller number attended the Interview than heretofore has been usual : 
That the commissioners from the several governments were unanimously of opinion 
that a union of the colonies was absolutely necessarj 7 ' in order to defeat the schemes 
of the French: That a representation of the state of the British interest on this con- 
tinent as it stands related to the French and Indians has been drawn up and ap- 
proved of: and that a plan of union has likewise been projected, and will, by the 
said commissioners, be laid before their respective constituents All the commis- 
sioners left Albany on the 12th instant." 



secure to themselves and their posterity to the end of time 
the inestimable blessings of civil and religious liberty, and 
the uninterrupted possession and settlement of a great coun- 
try, rich in all the fountains of human felicity. To obtain 
this happy establishment, without which, I fear, it never 
will be obtained, may the God of heaven grant success to 
the plan for a union of the British colonies on the con- 
tinent of America! " l 

The policy of union was earnestly recommended to the 
assemblies by the governors. Dobbs of North Carolina, for 
instance, portrayed with spirit the progress of the French ; 
urged that that power would never have adopted its grand 
and romantic scheme for dominion if it had not been pre- 
possessed with the idea that the British colonies were guided 
by selfish and partial views, were unwilling or incapable of 
uniting their force, and were like a rope of sand ; and lie 
said, " Let us show that we are true sons of Britons, whose 
ancestors have been famed for defending their valuable 
religion and liberties." 2 The Albany Plan was reported to 
the Massachusetts assembly by their delegation to the con- 
gress ; yet Shirley, impatient of delay, in a message urged 
action on it, and in private letters strongly advocated the 
promotion of a union to be established by an act of parlia- 
ment. 3 

These appeals failed to create a public opinion in favor of 
the plan. The Connecticut assembly resolved that it tended 
to subvert their liberties, took measures to watch the action 

1 Boston Gazette, Oct. 1, 1754. 

2 Dobbs's address of Dec. 12, 1754, was printed in the " Gentleman's Magazine " 
for July, 1755, in which he urged that colony to enter " into a plan of union with 
all the British colonies for their mutual future defence." 

3 Shirley says, in a letter dated Oct. 21, 1754, to Governor Morris, the newly ap- 
pointed governor of Pennsylvania, "The best advice I can give you is to lose no 
time for promoting the plan of a union of the colonies for their mutual defence, to be 
concerted at home, and established by act of parliament as soon as possible. ... I 
am laboring this point totis viribus." Shirley said of the Albany Plan, Dec. 24, 
1754, " It doth not appear well calculated to strengthen the dependency of the colo- 
nies upon the crown." 


of the other governments, and strongly opposed its adop- 
tion. 1 The New Jersey assembly declared, that it contained 
things which would affect its constitution in its very vitals, 
and believed and hoped it would never be countenanced by a 
British legislature. 2 The Pennsylvania assembly negatived 
it without a discussion. The Massachusetts assembly gave 
to it the consideration which the important subject required, 
but, after long debates, rejected it, and also rejected another 
plan, submitted by a committee. 3 In brief, the plan was 
negatived by every assembly before which it was brought, 
and was denounced in the forum of the people. 4 

The plan was transmitted, by Lieut.-Gov. Delancy, to the 
Lords of Trade, who laid it before the king with the simple 

1 TrumbulPs Hist. Conn., ii. 357. The assembly were desirous " that the govern- 
ment should be lessened, and divided into two districts." 

2 The Address of the House, in Boston Gazette, Nov. 5, 1754. The House 
says, " We can truly say, we want not arguments to convince us of the absolute 
necessity of the strictest union among all his majesty's provinces and colonies for 
the preservation of the whole, and on our part have endeavored to cultivate such a 
union, by contributing our endeavors in the best manner the circumstances of this 
colony will admit." 

3 The proceedings of the Massachusetts assembly on the question of a union 
of the colonies are interesting. It would, however, require too much space to relate 
them in full. The subject was referred, on the 22d of October, 1754, to a large com- 
mittee, who reported a new plan for a union, embracing only a part of the colonies. 
On the 13th of December, the question was assigned for nine o'clock on the following 
morning, and the members were" enjoined to give their attendance. On that day 
(Dec. 14), "after a large debate, the question was put, Whether the House accept of 
the General Plan of Union as reported by the commissioners convened at Albany in 
June last? It wns passed in the negative. Sent up for concurrence. The question 
was then put, Whether the House accept of the Partial Plan of Union reported by 
the last committee of both Houses appointed on the union V It passed in the negative. 
Sent up for concurrence.'' After this rejection of the Partial Plan and the Albany 
Plan, the House, by a vote of forty-one to thirty-seven, resolved that there ought to 
be a "general union of his majesty's colonies, except those of Nova Scotia and 
Georgia." A plan for such a union was reported by a committee. It is in Hutchin- 
son's handwriting. He does not allude to it in his history; nor have I met with 
any reference to it. It differs materially in some of its provisions from the Albany 
Plan. It provided, that the Grand Council, in the choice of their speaker, should not 
be subject to the negative of the president. After debating this plan, the House 
voted, forty-eight against thirty-one, that the further consideration of it should be 
suspended until the members could have an opportunity to consult their constituents. 
This plan will be found in the Appendix. 

4 Hutchinson, iii. 23. It was denounced at a large town-meeting in Boston 
(1 Mass. Coll., iv. 85) as detrimental to the liberties of the people. 


remark, that the scheme was complete in itself. 1 No action 
was taken on it by the Privy Council. The Lords of Trade 
were in favor of a plan of union more consonant with Eng- 
lish ideas ; 2 they were also occupied with the questions of 
altering the local governments, carrying into effect the acts 
relating to trade, and a scheme for internal taxation ; and 
they gave little attention to the Albany Plan. 

This plan, rejected in America because it had too much 
of the prerogative and in England because it was too demo- 
cratic, elicited discussion in the assemblies on the great 
question of union, and shows the progress of the American 
mind in political science. It had to solve the difficult 
problem of framing a general government adequate to pro- 
vide for the common welfare, and yet keeping inviolate the 
principle of local self-government. The New-England con- 
federacy secured effectually to each colony its rights ; but 
its board of commissioners to act for the whole was a crude 
embodiment of the union element. The schemes subse- 
quently proposed in books and letters, contemplated a grand 
council, or a congress, to devise measures for the general 
welfare ; but left their execution either to the local govern- 
ments, or, as was the ideal of the party of the prerogative, 
contemplated a consolidation of the popular functions into 
a central power, foreign to the genius of the people. The Al- 
bany Plan was designed to establish for all America one gov- 
ernment, based on the consent of the governed, and limited to 
general purposes, while it left to the local governments their 
separate functions. It designed to confer on the representa- 
tives of the people the power of making laws acting directly 

1 The letter of the Lords of Trade, dated Oct. 29, 1754, says, " The commis- 
sioners having agreed upon a Plan of Union, which, as far as their sense and 
opinion of it goes, is complete in itself, we shall not presume to make any observa- 
tions upon it, but transmit it simply for your majesty's consideration." New- York 
Col., vi. 920. 

2 The Lords were directed (June 14, 1754) by the king to prepare a plan for 
general concert by the colonies. On the 5th of July, the Lords wrote to Delancy, that 
it was the opinion and language of almost every colony that a general union of 
strength and interest had become absolutely necessary. New-York Col., vi. 848. 


on individuals, and appointing officers to execute them, and 
yet not to interfere with the execution of the laws operating 
on the same individuals by the local officers. The authors 
of this plan intended to erect a public authority as obliga- 
tory in its sphere as the local governments were in their 
spheres. This would have been not a mere league, but a 
self-sustaining government. The credit of this conception 
is due to the illustrious Franklin. It was original and 
American. It was comprehensive and grand. It is not 
strange that the form devised to carry it out should have 
been imperfect. The time had not ripened, the way had 
not been opened, for such a stride in political science as a 
worthy embodiment of this ideal would have been. It re- 
quired the discipline and the experience of the succeeding 
thirty years, the growth of a public opinion for a union, 
the rise of a sentiment of nationality, the possession of 
sovereignty, long training of the general mind in politics, 
and the wisdom of a cluster of the peers of Franklin in in- 
tellect, before the conception could be embodied in a worthy 
form. Divine Providence permitted Franklin to share in 
this experience, to aid in forming the more perfect Union 
of the Constitution, and to see his countrymen establish it 
as the law of the land. 1 

1 The paper entitled " Reasons and Motives on which the Plan of Union was 
formed," in Sparks's edition of Franklin's Works (iii. 32), was printed in 1789, 
in the " American Museum," vol. v., and at its close the following note, evidently by 
Franklin. It was not copied by Sparks : 

On reflection, it now seems probable, that, if the foregoing plan, or something like it, had 
been adopted and carried into execution, the subsequent separation of the colonies from the 
mother-country might not so soon have happened, nor the mischiefs suffered on both sides 
have occurred, perhaps, during another century. For the colonies, if so united, would have 
really been, as they then thought themselves, sufficient to their own defence ; and, being 
trusted with it. as by the plan, an army from Britain, for that purpose, would have been un- 
necessary. The pretences for framing the Stamp Act would then not have existed, nor the 
other projects for drawing a revenue from America to Britain by acts of parliament, which 
were the cause of the breach, and attended with such terrible expense of blood and treasure; 
so that the different parts of the empire might still have remained in peace and union. But 
the fate of this plan was singular. After many days' thorough discussion of all its parts in 
congress, it was unanimously agreed to, and copies ordered to be sent to the assembly of each 
province for concurrence, and one to the ministry in England for the approbation of the 
crown. The crown disapproved it, as having too much weight in the democratic part of the 
constitution, and every assembly as having allowed too much to prerogative ; so it was totally 

PHILADELPHIA, April 9th, 1789. 


The plan contained things which were hateful to the colo- 
nists. The reasoning against it, however, of the Connecti- 
cut legislators shows the strength of .their prejudices and the 
narrowness of their views rather than defects in the plan. 
The action of the assemblies ought to be regarded in con- 
nection with the prior aggressions on their rights, and with 
the claims set up for prerogative or for parliament as to 
their internal affairs, which kept them in a state of torment. 
The plan reserved to the colonies their local constitu- 
tions, except in the particulars in which a change might be 
made in an act of parliament authorizing the formation of 
the union. This important exception was not in Franklin's 
original plan ; he does not comment on it in his interesting 
paper on the reasons and motives for each article ; and no 
one, at a subsequent period, more strenuously opposed sub- 
mitting the local constitutions to the decisions of parliament 
than he. The assemblies obeyed a truly American instinct, 
in declining to subject their free municipal life their re- 
publican customs to the determination of a body in which 
their constituents were not represented. Indeed, the people 
in the late civil war were not truer to an imperative public 
duty in clinging to the national life, after the battle of Bull 
Run, than the colonies were in rejecting the manner of 
obtaining union recommended by the Albany Congress. 1 

Other plans of union at that time were brought forward, 
and congresses of governors to consult on the general de- 
fence continued to be held. In the October following the 
Albany Congress, Shirley communicated to Franklin, at 
Boston, the designs of the ministry in relation to union and 
taxation, which were so totally opposed to his own views as 
to elicit in reply the well-known remarkable letters, which 
were so sagacious that they embodied the gist of the Ameri- 

1 The tenacity with which the colonies held on to what they conceived to be their 
rights and liberties, ought to be viewed in connection with English politics. Smith, 
in his "Local Self-government" (192 to 210), shows how, from the Revolution of 
1688, there was constant violation of this principle. 


can argument against the arbitrary policy that was in contem- 
plation by the Lords of Trade. The scheme of union urged 
by Halifax despotic, complicated, and impracticable 
embraced a permanent revenue ; 1 one by Golden contained 
provisions for an hereditary council of landholders, in imi- 
tation of the House of Lords ; 2 one by Johnson, a church- 
man, contemplated a change in the charter governments, 
uniformity in all the colonies, and this as near as possible 
like the government of England, though he conceded that 
the Episcopal Church ought to have no superiority over 
other denominations. 3 The union question was discussed 
in pamphlets. One writer proposed to form three unions, 
a northern, a middle, and a southern, on the ground that 
really there were three distinct countries. 4 These plans, if 
of little political significance, show that attention continued 
to be given to the subject. It was a general feeling that the 
colonies ought to be united ; but there was no public opinion 
in favor of any of the schemes that had been proposed. 
Nor was there among them a fraternal sentiment, on which 
to base a union. 

It had long been thought that it would be impracticable 
to unite the colonies into one political power. Their rival- 
ries in trade and disputes about boundaries were severe. 
There was then war going on between Carolina and Georgia 
concerning the navigation of the Savannah. 5 These an- 
tagonisms were early seen. Sir William Keith held it to 
be morally impossible that any dangerous union could be 
formed among them. 6 Jeremiah Dummer said that they 
were so distinct from one another in their forms of govern- 
ment, their religion, emulations of trade, and affections, that 

1 Bancroft, iv. 166. 2 Ibid., iv. 272. 

3 In a paper dated King's College, New York, Jan.. 30, 1760, and sent to Pitt, 
Halifax, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. New- York Col., vii. 438. 

4 Contest in America, 1757, 40. 

6 Gentleman's Magazine, 1756, 20. The people of Georgia had seized several 
vessels belonging to Carolina, and the people of the latter had armed their vessels. 

* Memorial, 1720: "Every advantage that is lost or neglected by one colony is 
immediately picked up by another." Keith, in this paper, suggested a stamp tax. 


they never could be supposed to unite. 1 Franklin ascribed 
the disunion feeling to their jealousy of each other, which, 
he said, was so great as to prevent union when the enemy 
was burning their villages and murdering their people. 
Burnaby wrote that fire and water were not more hetero- 
geneous than the different colonies, and that union seemed 
almost impossible. 2 The " London Chronicle," in reply to 
the remark that the colonies could not be prevented from 
rising to independence and empire, urged that they had 
little intercourse with and less friendship for one another ; 
that their hereditary rivalries and dislikes would prevent a 
general combination for revolt, while any partial endeavor 
would be sure to prove unsuccessful ; and that while there 
were British governors, civil officers, a naval and military 
force among them, there could be no reasonable apprehen- 
sion of a revolt, were the colonies better peopled than they 
could possibly be for five hundred years. 3 This line of cita- 
tion might easily be extended. It would only be cumu- 
lative testimony, showing that the diversity which was 
paramount was looked upon as permanent. 

Such was the question of union when the intelligence 
went through the colonies of the surrender of Canada to 
the British arms. It was heralded as one of the grandest 
events known in English annals, and its magnitude was not 
overrated. The colonists, however, were naturally occupied 
with its bearing on themselves. A burden was lifted from 
their hearts. A fountain of misery was sealed up for 
ever. Henceforth but trembling hands could wield against 
them the tomahawk. Henceforth their race was to control 

1 A Defence of the New-England Charters, 1721, 73. 

2 Travels in 1759-60, 159. " Nothing can exceed the jealousy and emulation 
which they possess in regard to each other. The inhabitants of Pennsylvania and 
New York have an inexhaustible source of animosity in their jealousy for the trade 
of the Jerseys. Massachusetts Bay and Rhode Island are not less interested in that of 
Connecticut. . . . Were they left to themselves, there would soon be a civil war 
from one end of the continent to the other." 160. 

8 London Chronicle, May 30, 1760. This piece, signed " Simplicius," was copied 
into the American newspapers. 


America. They then had visions of future prosperity, 
peace, and security, a higher sense of the grandeur of 
the colonies. The towns were brilliant with illuminations. 
The press was laden with exultation. The pulpit was fer- 
vent with gratitude. The assemblies were extravagant with 
expressions of loyalty. 1 The general joy was irrepressible. 

The liberty men vied with the party of the prerogative in 
paeans to the British Constitution and flag. This enthu- 
siasm sustains a remark of Franklin, that the colonists 
loved the nation more than they loved each other. The 
royal officials, however, represented that the profession of 
devotion to the crown was sheer hypocrisy ; that the colonies 
intended to cast off their dependence on the mother-country. 
This was said throughout the whole period reviewed in this 
chapter. The charge was repelled by the colonists as an im- 
putation on their honor. Dummer, hearing it in the mouths 
of people of all conditions and qualities in London, con- 
fronted it by saying, " It would not be more absurd to place 
two of his majesty's beef-eaters to watch an infant in the 
cradle, that it do not rise to cut its father's throat, than to 
guard these weak infant colonies to prevent their shaking 
off the British yoke." 2 Franklin assured Pratt that no such 
idea as casting off their dependence was entertained by the 

1 The Massachusetts Assembly, August, 1760, in dwelling on the " inexpressible 
joy of the present times," said of the British Constitution, " Now this glorious con- 
stitution exceeds itself; it raises new ideas for which no language has provided 
words, because never known before. Contradictions are become almost consistent, 
clamorous faction is silent, morose envy good-natured, by the divine blessing on 
the councils and arms of our dread sovereign in every quarter of the world. He is 
become the scourge of tyrants, the hopes of the oppressed; yet in the midst of vic- 
tories prophesying peace." 

2 Defence of the New-England Charters, 72. Hutchinson (Hist. Mass., 3d ed., 
ii. 319) says this remark was in a brief used before the council. The idea that the 
colonies aimed at independence was alluded to in parliament, in the debates on 
the Sugar Bill. A petition from Rhode Island alleged that duties would be against 
their charter. Sir William Yonge, in 1733, said, " This, I must say, is something 
very extraordinary, and, in my opinion, looks mighty like aiming at an independ- 
ency, and disclaiming the authority and jurisdiction of-this House." Gobbet's Par- 
liamentary History, viii. 1261, where it is printed " very unlike; " but the speech is 
in "Massachusetts Gazette," Feb. 14, 1765. 


Americans. 1 Still the allegation was deliberately made by 
Chalmers, that, from the epoch of the Revolution and 
throughout every reign, it was the settled policy of the 
colonies to acquire independence ; and this has been repeated 
by a recent British writer. Neither supports the statement 
by proofs. It may be confidently affirmed, that no citations 
from private letters, no consultations for such .an object -by 
any political leaders, no resolves of any public body, no act 
of any colonial assembly, can be adduced to sustain such a 
charge. The only evidence of any such design is an im- 
pression made on the minds of royal officials by the zealous 
assertion on the part of the colonists of what they regarded 
as their rights ; and this is too vague for history. 2 

While there was neither an aim nor even a desire for 

1 Gordon (i. 136) says this assurance was made before 1760. Franklin arrived in 
London, July 27, 1757. 

2 The statement of Chalmers (Opinions of Eminent Lawyers, Preface) is, "that 
there lay among documents in the Board of Trade and Paper Office the most satis- 
factory proofs from the epoch of the Revolution of 1688, throughout everv reign and 
during every administration, of the settled purpose of the colonies to acquire direct 
independence." This subject was examined by Sparks, in No. X. of the Appen- 
dix of Vol. II. of the '-Writings of Washington" (1834). It is referred to in the 
preface to the American edition of Chalmers's " Revolt of the Colonies," printed in 
1845, where it is said that the proofs consisted of the complaints of the roval gov- 
ernors. The charge is repeated by Viscount Bury in 1865. He says, " A careful 
examination of the history of the colonies will show, that they, with few exceptions, 
formed, soon after this time (accession of William III.), the resolution of becoming 
independent of the mother-country." Exodus of the Western Nations, vol. i. 395. 
And he states (p. 412), " The desire of the colonies for independence existed from their 
very foundation." He adduces no proofs to sustain this statement. Against the 
opinion of Chalmers and Bury may be set the remark of Hutchinson (Hist. Mass., 
iii. 69), " An empire, separate or distinct from Britain, no man then (1758) alive ex- 
pected or desired to see." 

The idea that the colonies would rise into independence and empire Avas common 
at the period of 1760. It was met in a candid manner by the British press. A com- 
munication is copied into the " Boston News Letter" of Sept. 17, 1761, from a Lon- 
don journal. The writer says, " I know it has long been a boggle to some, that our 
colonies, finding no enemies on their backs, would set up for themselves . . . how 
weakly founded I appeal to common sense. If we have a mind to yoke them, make 
slaves of them, I grant it such aids are necessary for the purpose ; but use them as 
fellow Britons, and they cannot, will not, refuse to acquiesce in what is just and right. 
I defy the most cunning among us to prove that they have ever offered to resist where 
they have not had just cause, and which on the same occasion would not have had 
the same effect on the people of England." 


independence on the part of the colonists, yet the increase 
of population and wealth, the working of ideas, the quiet 
unfolding of Providence, elicited much reasoning and specu- 
lation on the tendency of events. This unwonted spectacle 
of the progress of a free people attracted more and more 
the attention of men of thought, and elicited a line of specu- 
lation respecting the future of America. Berkeley, in a pro- 
phetic strain, sung of another golden age which should 
produce subjects worthy of fame : 

'' Westward the course of empire takes its way, 

The four first acts already past, 
A fifth shall close the drama with the day; 
Time's noblest offspring is the last." ! 

Dummer heard great men say that the colonists, in the 
course of some years, if not curbed in time, would declare 
themselves a free State. 2 Kalm was told by Americans and 
by Englishmen, that in thirty or fifty years the colonies would 
be able to form a State by themselves entirely independent. 3 
Turgot said, in a public discourse, that, when America was 
able to take care of itself, it would do what Carthage did. 4 
John Adams mused on what would follow the expulsion of 
the turbulent Gallics, and saw a great seat of empire here 
that would become more populous than England. 5 Weare 
judged that the colonies, ripened by a very few more years 
must, agreeably to Nature's ordinary laws, drop off from 
that stock whence they originally sprung. 6 Franklin pre- 
dicted that, in less than a century, the Mississippi Valley 
would become a populous and powerful dominion. 7 Lude- 
man averred' that the planets were the silent patrons of 
lovely America, and that her independence would be a 
steady counterbalance to the fierce commotions of the old 

1 Bishop Berkeley's well-known verses were written about 1726. 

2 Defence of New-England Charters, 72. 

3 Kalm's Travels in North America, i. 264, printed in 1748. 

4 1750. Bancroft, iv. 66. 5 1755. Works, i. 23. 

6 Before 1759. Mass. Hist. Coll., i. 76. 

7 1756. Sparks's Works of Franklin, iii. 70. 


world. 1 It was a tradition that the Pilgrims who founded 
Plymouth inscribed on a rock the couplet, 

" The eastern nations sink, their glory ends, 
And empire rises where the sun descends." 2 

An Italian poet, inspired by the presence of Benjamin West, 
sung that the spirit of venerable Rome, immortal and unde- 
cayed, was spreading towards the new world. 3 Burnaby 
relates that an idea had entered into the minds of the gen- 
erality of mankind, that empire was travelling westward. 4 
The language of the press was often elevating and prophetic 
as it portrayed what a great country, rich in all the foun- 
tains of human felicity, would be with union and a free 
constitution. 5 

America, before which a grand future was opening, was 
delineated as a tract having sixteen hundred miles of 
sea-coast, producing all the conveniences and necessaries 
of life, and surpassed in population in Europe by only 
three powers, the German Empire, France, and England. 
America, it was said, because of her trade and the great 
quantity of manufactures consumed in it, had become the 
fountain of the riches of the mother -country. It was 
pictured as having hundreds of thriving towns, of which 
Boston was as large and better built than Bristol, or, in- 
deed, any city in England except London ; New York had 
abundant markets, good wharves, a large and growing 
commerce ; five thousand houses of brick and stone, and a 
town house very little inferior to Guild-Hall ; Philadelphia 
was as fine a city of its size as any on the globe, had a 
market-place equal to any in Europe, and an Academy in 
which the youth had made surprising progress ; Charles- 
ton, with a genteel and a refined society, was as large as 
Gloucester. 6 The population of a million and a half was 

1 1757. Farmer and Moore's Collections, i. 127. 

2 John Adams's Works, ix. 599. 8 Gait's Life of West, i. 117. 
4 Travels, 155. 6 See above, p. 146. 

6 These statements may be seen in an elaborate paper describing the colonies in 
the " Gentleman's Magazine" of 1755. 


doubling in twenty-five, some said, twenty years. In verses 
referring to the contributions of the learned from all climes 
to the cause of science, it was written, 

" mild America prevails ; 

The maid new paths in science tries, 
New gifts her daring toil supplied; 
She gordian knots of art unbinds; 
The Thunder's secret source she finds; 
With rival power her lightnings fly, 
Her skill disarms the frowning sky; 
For this the minted gold she claims, 
Ordained the meed of generous aims." * 

While America had thus won laurels in the field of 
science, it was said of her, that she had created an asylum 
for liberty. This was a passion with the race who had sub- 
dued the wilderness. It was the spring of their fidelity, 
intelligence, and zeal. A love of it was continually ex- 
pressed in their utterances. " Liberty," are Franklin's 
words, 2 " thrives best in the woods. America best culti- 
vates what Germany brought forth." A paper, 3 analyzing 
free principles and enjoining fidelity to them, circulated in 
the journals, closing with Milton's words : 

" This is true liberty, when free-born men, 
Having to advise the public, may speak free, 
Which he who can and will, deserves high praise; 
Who neither can nor will may hold his peace : 
What can be juster in a State than this? " 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, Preface, 1753. It has this note : " Benjamin Franklin, 
Esq., of Philadelphia, obtained the Royal Society's medal for his amazing discov- 
eries in electricity." 

2 In 1759. Sparks's Works, iii. 114. * Independent Advertiser, 1749. 



1760 TO 1766. 

THE rejection of the Albany Plan proposing a general gov- 
ernment for all America was not caused by a low estimate 
of the value of union ; but was occasioned by a state of 
things which precluded its adoption, or even the formation 
of a public opinion in its favor. The subject was soon over- 
laid by events of such magnitude as to create an epoch in 
history. At that period, the ministry of George III. decided 
on a policy with regard to America more in harmony with 
English ideas and objects than with wisdom and justice. 
This policy, so far as it was developed in the Stamp Act, 
was an assertion by parliament of the right to tax the colo- 
nies by a body in which they were not represented ; and the 
attempt to execute this act evoked out of the prevalent 
diversity a sentiment of union, and called forth a congress 
for a redress of grievances. 

The congress was held during the period of the Ameri- 
can Revolution. This was a grand historic drama, in which 
George III. spoke the prologue, when he announced the 
purpose of taxing America ; and Washington gave the 
epilogue, when he took the oath as the chief-magistrate of a 
free people. The movement, viewed in its completeness, 
may be said to have been a single step forward, which it 
required thirty years to take, and in which the British sub- 
jects of thirteen colonies, formed into communities under 
authority derived from the crown, advanced to the position 


of citizens of thirteen independent States, organized on the 
basis of the sovereignty of the people, and united into a 
nation under a republican form of government. The unin- 
terrupted display of political wisdom in the progress of this 
work, its achievement under the banner of law and justice, 1 
the crowning triumph of the Federal Constitution with the 
power of self-preservation, elicited from Lord Brougham 
the judgment that this revolution is the most important 
political event in the history of our species. 2 It was a 
growth. It shows the process of evolution. Washington, 
a type of the wonderful public virtue of his time, recog- 
nized the nature of this growth, as is evident from these 
memorable words in his inaugural address : " No people 
can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand 
which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of 
the United States. Every step by which they have advanced 
to the character of an independent nation seems to have 
been distinguished by some token of providential agency." 
The thirteen colonies, at the commencement of the Revo- 
lution, according to the rate of*their increase, contained a 
population of about two millions. They were distinct com- 
munities. It is no more than simple justice to the founders 
of the republic to keep in mind, that these communities, 
each having a local life peculiar in some respects to itself, 
presented, not merely the aspect of diversity and a want of 
fraternity, but often that of antagonism to each other. 3 

1 Guizot. The Causes of the Success of the English Revolution, 1640-1688, 

2 Lord Brougham, in his " Political Philosophy " (vol. iii 329), says of the colo- 
nies, " After a series of extraordinary successes, . . . and an uninterrupted display 
of political wisdom as well as firmness and moderation, they finally threw off the 
yoke of the mother-country, . . . winning for themselves a new constitution upon 
the Federal plan, and of the republican form. This is perhaps the most important 
event in the history of our species." * 

8 Lord Mahon (Hist. England, v. 77) has a candid strain of remark on this point 
of diversity, as he mentions the rivalries and the difficulty of concert and union. 
He says, "It is a difficulty which should ever be borne in mind by every candid his- 
torian of the revolutionary war, as tending to enhance the success of the Americana 
when they succeeded, and to excuse in some degree their failure when they failed." 


Whatever Americanism there was did not appear in the 
form of unionism, so long as the sentiment of country or of 
nationality centred in the British Empire. The tradition- 
ary affection for England found expression when the Peace 
of Paris was announced. By that peace, England retained 
half a continent as the monument of her victories. 1 She 
was exalted high among the nations. Her power and em- 
pire seemed above all ancient and above all modern fame. 2 
" We in America," James Otis exclaimed, " have abundant 
reason to rejoice. The heathen are driven out, and the 
Canadians conquered. The British dominion now extends 
from sea to sea, and from the great rivers to the end 
of the earth. Liberty and knowledge, civil and religious, 
will be co-extended, improved, and preserved to the latest 
posterity." He reiterated the eulogy of the colonial age 
on the British Constitution ; he claimed that every British 
subject in America was entitled to the essential privileges 
of Britons ; he extolled the union between Great Britain 
and her plantations ; and he said, " What God in his provi- 
dence has united, let no ma^h dare attempt to pull asunder." 3 
This undoubtedly expressed the feeling of Americans. 
The idea that the people of England and the colonies were 
fellow-subjects, co-equals in political rights under the Brit- 
ish Constitution, was common in America. It pervades the 
utterances of the patriots. Jefferson embodied the senti- 
ment as he wrote the declaration that announced the sepa- 
ration of the people of the colonies from the people of 
England : " We might have been a free and a great people 
together." 4 

Such is a glance at America when George III. began his 
memorable reign. It is common for British writers to lay 
at the door of the king and his advisers the responsibility 

1 Bancroft, iv. 78. 2 Smyth's Lectures on Modern History, ii. 348. 

3 "Post Boy," March 21, 1763. Otis delivered this speech on being chosen 
moderator of the first town-meeting held in Boston after the intelligence of the 
Treaty of 1763 was received. 

* Original Draft of the Declaration of Independence. 


for what occurred. He is characterized as having been 
amiable in private life, but with a narrow understanding 
which culture had not enlarged, and an obstinate disposi- 
tion which no education could have humanized ; and it is 
said, that the instant his prerogative was concerned, or his 
will was thwarted, the most unbending pride and calculating 
coldness took possession of his breast, and swayed it by 
turns. 1 Lord Bute, also, his early adviser, is described as 
of a cold heart, and haughty ways, and thoroughly tory in 
his affinities. But however just may be the delineations 
of these actors and of others, the springs of the great events 
that soon occurred lay deeper than personal character. 
They grew out of the ideas of the age. Their roots were in 
the condition of society. The king was an exponent of the 
feudalism that still lingered, and which was absolutely 
irreconcilable with institutions in America that tended more 
and more to a realization of freedom and equality. 

The acquisition of Canada, of the valley of the Mississippi,, 
and of Florida, vastly increased the consequence of America : 
it became the great subject for consideration, and seemedi 
to require a new policy. The men in power regarded Eng- 
land as the head and heart of the whole empire, as omnipo- 
tent in the matter of government ; and they aimed to make 
every other part of the empire " the mere instrument or 
conduit of conveying nourishment and vigor " to the head. 2 
A policy based substantially on this idea had long been 
urged by the Lords of Trade. It amounted to the construc- 
tion of a new colonial map. It embraced an alteration of 
territorial boundaries, a remodelling of the local constitu- 
tions, an abridgment of popular power, and an introduction 
of the aristocratic or hereditary element. It contemplated, 
in fact, the moulding of America into uniformity with Eng- 
land. It included an execution of the Navigation Act, 
which had never been enforced, of laws of trade which had 

1 Brougham's Statesmen of the Times of George II., 1, 2. 

2 Extra-official State Papers, 32, written by William Knox. 



remained dead letters on the statute-book, the collection of 
a revenue, and the establishment of a standing army. The 
ministry of the Earl of Bute, based on prerogative and 
power, decided in favor of this policy, and successive ad- 
ministrations endeavored to carry it out in part or in the 
whole. 1 

The measures embodying this scheme were not adopted at 
once. Its earliest manifestation was in the shape of in- 
structions to the several officers, directing them to execute 
the acts of trade ; and the application of one of them to 
the superior court of Massachusetts for " a writ of assist- 
ance," or an authority to search any house for merchandise 
liable to duty, occasioned the famous argument of James 
Otis against granting the writ. The orders issued after the 
Peace of Paris, directing an execution of the Sugar Act, 
the Navigation Act, and the arbitrary laws of trade created 
great alarm in the colonies. 2 This was protested against 
by the community generally. It was suggested that the 
merchants in the colonies should hold meetings, choose 
committees to memorialize the general assemblies to act on 
the subject of the Sugar Act, and that these committees 
should open a correspondence with each other, and thus 
endeavor " to promote a union or a coalition of all their 

1 Bancroft has traced the origin of this policy with great thoroughness, espe- 
cially in chapters v., vii., and ix. of vol. v. See the valuable note, p. 83, on the 
alterations proposed in the local governments. 

2 This subject has been so often presented, that it would be following a beaten 
track to relate the details of its adoption. I subjoin a few dates and facts. The card 
of Barrens, the collector, giving notice of a determination to break up illicit trade, is 
dated Oct. 27, 1760. The argument of James Otis on writs of assistance was made 
in November, 1761. There is comparatively little political matter in the journals of 
1762. A letter of the Lords of Trade, dated Oct. 11, 1763, signed " R. Bacon, 
John Yorke, Hillsborough, Soame Jenyns," enjoined the governors to make "the 
suppression of the clandestine trade," "in the strictest manner the object of their 
immediate care." Admiral Colvill, in a letter dated Romney, Halifax Harbor, Oct. 
22, 1763, gave the governor of Rhode Island notice that the " Squirril" would be 
stationed at Newport to execute the revenue acts; and the newspapers of that period 
contain accounts of the arrival of ships of war at different ports for the same pur- 


councils ; " * an idea carried out nine years later in the 
celebrated organization of committees of correspondence. 
This suggestion met with favor. The merchants of several 
towns in Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island held 
meetings, corresponded with each other, and adopted me- 
morials to the assemblies ; and representations were sent to 
England against the Sugar Act. All this proved of no 
avail. The act, about to expire, was renewed and made 
more obnoxious, and other duties were imposed. 

Meantime reports multiplied that the home government 
was devising a system of " inland taxation," that the method 
was to be stamp tax, and that the internal police of the 
colonies was to be altered. 2 Charles Townshend was ad- 
vanced to the place of First Lord of Trade. He was as 
zealous for an alteration of the local governments as when 
he first became a member of this Board. The Chancellor 
of the Exchequer, George Grenville, declined to bring for- 

1 The issues of the " Boston Evening Post " of Nov. 21 and 28, 1763, contain an 
elaborate paper, occupying seven columns, treating of " the great commotion the 
maritime towns are thrown into by the present juncture of affairs." This piece 
says, "The Sugar Act has from its first publication (1733) been adjudged so un- 
natural, that hardly any attempts have been made to carry it into execution." The 
writer recommended the merchants of Boston to hold a general meeting, and choose 
a committee to write to every maritime town in the province, advising the like 
measure; and "that a grand committee" prepare a remonstrance to the general 
court, asking action in favor of an abolition of the duty on foreign sugar and 
molasses; also that this committee open a correspondence with the principal mer- 
chants of the other colonies. The "Boston Gazette" of Jan. 16, 1764, says that 
the merchants were about transmitting their proceedings to several other govern- 
ments. The remonstrance of the Rhode-Island colony to the Lords of Trade against 
the Sugar Act is dated Jan. 24, 1764; and their agent was directed to present it, 
provided any three of the agents of the other colonies would unite with him in the 
same. The " Boston Post Boy " of Feb. 13, 1764, has an account of a meeting of 
the merchants of New York, held at Mr. Burn's Long Room, who appointed a 
committee to prepare a memorial to the legislature. 

2 The following paragraph was circulated in the newspapers. It is in the " Bos- 
ton Post Boy," Aug. 8, 1763, and the " Gazette," Aug. 22: 

" Charleston, S.C., July 2. A report prevails that there are letters in town from London 
of a late date, advising that the parliament of Great Britain would soon take into their con- 
sideration the police of the several American governments dependent on the mother-country ; 
and by act establish a form that would effectually obviate all the inconveniences which hath 
arisen or might arise from imperfections in either, and oblige them to be unanimous in all 
points tending to their general good." 


ward this part of the Bute policy, though fully resolved on 
the measure of taxation. On the 9th of March, 1764, he 
read in the House of Commons a series of resolutions de- 
claring the intention of the government to raise a revenue 
in America by a duty on stamped paper ; announcing, how- 
ever, that final action on the question would be delayed, 
with the view of allowing the colonists an opportunity of 
suggesting other modes of laying a tax. The king, on pro- 
roguing parliament, on the 19th of April, gave a hearty 
approval to what he characterized as " the wise regulations 
which had been established to augment the public revenues, 
to unite the interests of the most distant possessions of the 
crown, and to encourage and secure their commerce with 
Great Britain." What a commentary on this sentence were 
the events that occurred eleven years later, on the anniver- 
sary of the delivery of this speech. 

The Declaratory Resolves, the heralds of the famous 
Stamp Act, caused great sensation in the colonies. The 
American mind was soon occupied with the profound ques- 
tions of government, natural rights, and constitutional law. 
As the discussion went on in the public meeting, the press, 
and the general assemblies, the people became divided in 
sentiment. The opposers of the measures of the adminis- 
tration were termed Whigs, Patriots, and Sons of Liberty ; 
and the supporters of the administration were called Loyal- 
ists, Tories, and Friends of Government. Each party could 
point to men of learning, talents, and integrity, as actors or 
sympathizers, who believed in the justice of certain leading 
principles and objects, and sought by joint endeavor to pro- 
mote them ; and each party had to endure the evils inflicted 
on the cause by its own selfish, unscrupulous, rash, and 
violent members. Both sides claimed to act under the 
British Constitution, and to be loyal to the crown. Both 
regarded with pride their connection with the mother-coun- 
try ; nor did the Whigs, until after hostilities commenced, 
aim at a dissolution of this connection. 


The Whigs, traced by the lineage of principles, had an 
ancestry in Buchanan and Languet, in Milton, Locke, and 
Sidney, or the political school whose utterances are inspired 
and imbued with the Christian idea of man. 1 Their leading 
principle was republicanism as it was embodied in the free 
institutions of the colonies. The sentiment of their advo- 
cates on freedom and equality shows that they instinctively 
grasped the principle which has most thoroughly leavened 
modern opinion, and promises to modify most deeply the 
constitution of society and the politics of states. 2 Their 
platform was summed up in the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence, and became the American theory of government. 
Most of the men who figured in the grand political centre 
of the congress that adopted this measure, appear as promi- 
nent Whigs in the action of their respective localities during 
the stages which led to it ; and this remark is applicable 
to the members of the convention that framed the Federal 
Constitution. In order to understand a revolution, it is 
necessary to consider it at its origin and at its termination. 3 
The Whigs, at the origin of this movement, were in a mi- 
nority in some of the colonies. When they organized into 
a party, it had powerful opponents in them all ; but it grew 
in numbers until it embraced substantially the whole people. 
This, therefore, was the national party. To it posterity are 
indebted for the mighty historic influence of American 

The Tories had for their leading principle the supremacy 
of law, and for their leading object continual dependence on 
England. Their chief men in each colony were most of the 

1 See above, p. 9. 2 Maine's Ancient Law, 91, 92. 

3 Guizot remarks, " In order properly to understand a revolution, we must consider 
it at its origin and termination, in the earliest plans which it puts forth and in the 
definite results which it attains. In these its true character is revealed; by these we 
may judge what were the real thoughts and wishes of the people among whom it 
took place. All that occurs between these two periods is more or less factitious, tran- 
sitory, and deceptive. The stream winds and wanders in its course ; two points alone, 
its source and its mouth, determine its direction. . . . During the course of a revolu- 
tion, parties are formed and transformed. . . . That is really the national party which 
appears at the origin and termination." Monk's Contemporaries, 1. 


circle of officials appointed by the crown, and many persons 
of wealth and high social position. 1 They were numerous 
in every colony, and had seven or eight journals in their 
interest. It is not easy to generalize accurately as to them. 
Some of the royal governors sent from England were im- 
bued with high-toned Tory ideas, and held the self-govern- 
ment that had grown up as equivalent to mob-law ; while 
Americans who took this side deplored the adoption of 
some of the ministerial measures, though they held that 
submission to them was due to the loyalty which they owed 
to the sovereign and the reverence which was due to parlia- 
ment. Hence they gradually became defenders of arbitrary 

At the date of the passage of the Declaratory Resolves, the 
Whigs were not united into a party ; and eight years elapsed 
before the celebrated organization of committees of corre- 

The intelligence of the intention to impose a direct in- 
ternal tax on the colonies was soon followed by important 
action. A writer remarks, that " the American people en- 
tered at once into one vast arena for the purpose of mutual 
defence and national concert." 2 It is more precise to say, 
that the portion of the people, soon to be known as Sons of 
Liberty, felt alike grieved at the contemplated aggression on 
the custom of self-taxation, which was held as guarantied 
by the British Constitution. This is evinced in indepen- 
dent and spontaneous utterances in various colonies. 3 

1 Hutchinson (Hist. Mass., iii. 103) says, that " the terms Whig and Tory had never 
been much used in America," but that " all on a sudden the officers of the crown, 
and such as were for keeping up their authority, were branded with the name of 
Tories." This appears under the date of 1763. 

2 Burk's Hist. Virginia, iii. 292. 

8 In the "Boston Gazette" of May 14, Nov. Anglicanus comments severely on 
the proposed tax, saying, "Have we ever yet forfeited our freedom? Would it be 
just to put us on the footing of conquered slaves? " and proposes that " a remon- 
strance should be sent home," showing how this scheme would affect the civil consti- 
tution as well as trade. In the " New-York Gazette," May 24, it is said, " If the 
colonist is taxed without his consent, he will perhaps seek a change." And Richard 
Henry Lee, May 31, was even more decided. Bancroft, v. 194. 


The earliest organized action l on the subject was taken at 
Boston. At its annual meeting, held on the 24th of May, 
the town expressed its views by instructing its represen- 
tatives respecting their course in the next general court, in 
a paper prepared and moved by Samuel Adams. He was 
nearly forty-two years of age. He was a graduate from 
Harvard College, and had been a small trader and a collector 
of taxes. He, however, allowed his genius its native bent ; 
and by talk with the townsmen, and by contributions to the 
journals, he had acquired a wide reputation for knowledge 
of political questions. He was a genuine lover of liberty, a 
believer in the power of truth, justice, and right ; had faith in 
God and in the capacity of the Americans for self-govern- 
ment ; and drew inspiration from the idea that he was ad- 
vocating the cause of humanity. If the elements of his 
character were such that he was called the last of the 
Puritans, his political views were ever broad and comprehen- 
sive ; and no selfishness marred the service which he sought 
to render his country. He averred that he was no leveller, 
and shunned the extremes that bring obloquy on a good 
cause ; but he was an elevator of his race because he 
labored to promote education and Christianity as the instru- 
mentalities of progress. He was passionate in his attach- 
ment to his native town and province and to their local 
rights ; but he looked upon them as virtually members of 
one political body composed of all the colonies, 2 and he held 
that their union would be their salvation. So simple was 

1 The meeting was called for the 15th, and adjourned to the 24th. The following 
shows the work of " The Caucas." On this word, see " Siege of Boston," 30, and 
" Life of Warren," 50. From " Boston Evening Post," May 14, 1764: 

To the Freeholders, &c., Modesty preventing a personal application (customary in other 
places) for your interest to elect particular persons to be your representatives ; we therefore 
request your votes for those gentlemen who have steadily adhered to your interest in times past, 
especially in the affair of Trade, by sending timely instructions, requested by our agent, rela- 
tive to Acts of Trade late pending in Parliament. 

Your humble servants, THE CAUCA8. 

2 This is his language: " The colonies form one political body, of which each is 
a member." Wells's Life of Adams, i. 198. 


he in his private life, and so consistent in his political 
course, that he was a personation of the democratic prin- 
ciple. His wise and timely action in this town-meeting was 
.the beginning of a long, sagacious, and nob^p political 

The Instructions enjoin the representatives to maintain, 
the invaluable rights held under the charter, and those in- 
dependent of the charter, enjoyed " as free-born subjects of 
Great Britain ; " to maintain the dignity of a free assembly; 
and to endeavor to have the agent of the colony in London 
instructed, that, at that critical juncture, while he set forth 
their loyalty, their dependence on Great Britain, and their 
obedience to necessary regulations of trade, he should re- 
monstrate against the proposed scheme of taxation as anni- 
hilating the charter right to govern and tax, and as striking 
at privileges held in common with fellow-subjects who were 
natives of Britain ; and they close with the following words : 
" As his majesty's other Northern American colonies are 
embarked with us in this most important bottom, we further 
desire you to use your endeavors, that their weight may be 
added to that of this province ; that, by the united applica- 
tions of all who are aggrieved, all may happily obtain re- 
dress." 1 In this earliest protest of a public meeting against 
the Stamp Act is the proposition for united effort. 

The General Court met six days after these instructions 
were adopted. James Otis was one of the members from 
Boston, and had long been the pioneer of its patriots. He 
had repeatedly been chosen a representative since the de- 
livery of the speech on writs of assistance, had increased his 
popularity by a pamphlet which vindicated the natural rights 
and constitutional liberties of the people, and was then at 
the height of his powers and influence. In pursuance of the 

1 This paper was printed in the "Boston Gazette" of May 28 and the "Boston 
Post Boy," and in the " Massachusetts Gazette " of May 81. It was also printed by 
Otis in his " Rights of the Colonies." The original (Wells's Samuel Adams, i. 46) is 
among Adams's papers and in his handwriting. 


instructions of the town, he prepared a memorial on the pro- 
posed Stamp Act and the Sugar Act, in which he contended 
that the authority of parliament was circumscribed by cer- 
tain bounds ; that acts which went beyond these bounds 
were those of power without right, and consequently void ; 
and that as British subjects the people had the right to make 
the local laws and to tax themselves. 1 This paper was 
ordered to be sent to the agent in London, with an elaborate 
letter, instructing him to remonstrate against the proposed 
Stamp Act, and to urge a repeal of the Sugar Act. A com- 
mittee was then appointed to acquaint the other govern- 
ments with these instructions, and in the name and behalf 
of the House to " desire the several assemblies on this con- 
tinent to join with them in the same measures." 2 Thus the 
first effect of the Declaratory Resolves was a proposition 
brought before all the American assemblies for joint action. 
The Boston Instructions, widely circulated in the jour- 
nals, 3 were soon followed by the inspiring pamphlet of Otis, 
entitled the " Rights of the British Colonies asserted and 
proved," in which he argued, that, in theory, civil gov- 
ernment is of God, and the original possessors of power 
were the whole people ; but that, in fact, authority was em- 

1 The General Court met on the 30th of May, 1764. It is said in the Journals 
of the House, that, on the 8th of June, " The rights of the colonies in general, and of 
the Province of Massachusetts Bay in particular, briefly stated, with remarks on 
the Sugar Act." were read; and that, on the 12th, this was read again. On the 
13th, it was adopted. Gordon (i. 151) has confounded this brief memorial with the 
pamphlet of Otis, which, he says, " was read twice over in the House" within four 
days; and he has been followed by others. The memorial was printed in this pam- 

2 June 13, 1764. Ordered that Mr. Otis, Mr. Thacher, Mr. Cushing, Captain 
Sheafe, and Mr. Gray be a committee, in the recess of the court, to write to the other 
governments, to acquaint them with the Instructions this day voted to be sent to 
the agent of the province, directing him to use his endeavors to obtain a repeal of 
the Sugar Act, and to exert himself to prevent a stamp act, or any other impositions 
and taxes upon this and the other American provinces; and that the said committee, 
in the name and behalf of this House, desire the several assemblies on this continent 
to join with them in the same measures. Journal of House of Rep., 77. This 
resolve was not printed in the newspapers. 

3 The Boston Instructions were printed in the "Boston Gazette" and in 
other journals of that period. See p. 168. 


bodied in the British Constitution ; and that by this the 
colonies enjoyed the right, in their subordinate local legis- 
latures, of governing and taxing themselves. He cited 
Locke on the ends of government. He held that there 
could be no prescription old enough to supersede the law 
of nature and the grant of God Almighty, who had given 
all men a right to be free ; that nothing but life and lib- 
erty were hereditable ; that, in solving practically the grand 
political problem, the first and simple principle must be 
equality and the power of the whole. 1 These views of the 
Whigs were met by their opponents, by averring, that, how- 
ever excellent " the power of the people may seem in theory, 
it had always proved mischievous in fact ; " that in every 
age and country it had been impossible to combine the pas- 
sions of the multitude so as to produce order ; that the 
source of all the evils was the local governments, which gave 
too much power to the people and too little to the crown ; 
that the remedy was " a general reformation of the colo- 
nies " by an act of parliament ; that if this were not done 
in the present reign, it might be attempted by a king with 
the spirit of James II. ; and " his single order, with a regi- 
ment of dragoons, would dissolve all the charters in his 
dominions." 2 

While this discussion was going on in the press, the 
Massachusetts committee of correspondence sent a circular 

1 This pamphlet was advertised in the "Boston Gazette" of July 23. It was 
reprinted in London by Almon; and in the " Gazette " of April 8, 1765, is the fol- 
lowing, copied from a London paper: " As the ministry propose to tax the Americans, 
this excellent treatise, which was lately published in the colonies and universally 
approved of there, is highly necessary for the perusal of the members of both Houses, 
and of such who choose to make themselves masters of an argument so little under- 
stood, but of so great consequence to every British subject and lover of constitu- 
tional liberty." 

2 The paper from which the sentences in the text are quoted was printed in the 
"Massachusetts Gazette" of May 31, occupying a whole side of the issue. It was 
very sharply and elaborately replied to in the il Boston Gazette " of June 11, 1764. 
Its tone may be seen in the following: "Is it the fault or fortune of mankind that 
every little fellow, the instant he rises above that natural equality in which God has 
placed all men, begins to think his species a race of beings below his notice, but to 
fleece and impoverish?" 


to the other assemblies, proposing harmonious action. The 
Rhode Island assembly chose a similar committee, and its 
chairman was Stephen Hopkins, the governor, who was 
making a noble record by his steady zeal and intelligent 
service. This committee addressed an excellent letter to 
the Pennsylvania assembly, in which it is urged, that, if 
the plan to tax the colonies were carried out, it would leave 
them nothing they could call their own ; and it is suggested, 
that, if all the colonies would enter with spirit into a de- 
fence of their liberties, if their sentiments should be col- 
lected, and their agents be directed to use this combined 
expression of opinion there, it might produce the desired 
result. The North-Carolina assembly chose a committee to 
express their concurrence with the views of the Massachu- 
setts circular. 1 The New- York assembly directed their com- 
mittee, chosen to correspond with their agent in London, 
to correspond with the several committees or assemblies on 
the continent. 2 The assemblies of Massachusetts, Connecti- 
cut, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Vir- 
ginia sent petitions and remonstrances against the proposed 

1 The Rhode-Island assembly elected a committee on the 30th of July, consist- 
ing of Stephen Hopkins, Daniel Jenckes, and Mr. Nicholas Brown. Rhode-Island 
Records, vi. 403. Their letter, referred to in the text, is dated Oct. 8. 1764, and was 
addressed to Franklin as speaker of the Pennsylvania assembly. Sparks's Frank- 
lin, vii. 264. This assembly referred the Massachusetts circular to a committee, 
who reported a plan to co-operate Avith parliament in devising a system of taxation ; 
but, on receiving the Rhode-Island letter, it not merely resolved to remonstrate against 
the proposed tax, but to send Franklin to London as their agent. Gordon's Penn- 
sylvania, 431. 432. Martin (Hist. North Carolina, i. 288) says the committee of 
correspondence of North Carolina consisted of the speaker and four members. 

2 The New- York assembly, on the 7th of March, 1759, " ordered that the mem- 
bers of New York, or the major part of them, be a committee of correspondence to 
correspond with the agent of this colony at the court," &c. On the 18th of October, 
1764, the assembly ordered this committee to correspond with the several assemblies, 
or committees of assemblies, on this continent, &c. Journal of the General Assem- 
bly of New York. It is stated in' "New- York City during the Revolution," 1861, 
that, " in October, 1764, New York appointed the first committee of correspondence 
six years before Massachusetts, and nine years before Virginia took any steps to 
imitate her example." p. 11. And this statement has been repeated and dwelt 
upon. It will be seen, by comparing the date of the action of New York with the 
action of the Massachusetts assembly, that this is an error. 


Stamp Act, and gave directions that their agents should act 
together ; but no further attempt was made at that time to 
obtain united action. The state-papers elicited in this early 
movement were very able. All of them claimed for the 
colonies the traditionary right of self-taxation through their 
local assemblies. 

The tameness of the petition of the Massachusetts legis- 
lature, which was a compromise between parties in the 
Council and the House, gave great dissatisfaction to the pa- 
triots. The boldest language was used by the New- York 
assembly, in which the brothers Philip and Robert R. Liv- 
ingston, famed in the annals of that colony, took a promi- 
nent part. The assembly, in an address to Lieut.-Gov. Golden, 
written by Philip Livingston, express the hope that he would 
" heartily join with them in an endeavor to secure that great 
badge of English liberty of being taxed only with their own 
consent, to which they conceive all his majesty.'s subjects, at 
home and abroad, were equally entitled." The Virginia 
memorials were exceedingly able and high toned. The pe- 
tition to the king and memorial to the Lords, were pre- 
pared by Richard Henry Lee, of a noble fame ; and the 
memorial to the commons by George Wythe, one of the 
great characters of Virginia, who adorned the cause by his 
private and public virtues. The Rhode-Island assembly, in 
addition to its petition, ordered to be published a paper on 
the rights of the colonies, written by its governor, Stephen 
Hopkins, which met with large commendation. 1 The as- 
semblies differed in the mode of presenting the question : 
but the patriots were animated by a similar spirit and 

1 This was printed in a pamphlet, and was advertised in the " Boston Post Boy," 
Dec. 31, 1764, and favorably noticed in the "Massachusetts Gazette" of Jan. 3, 
1765. In the "Evening Post" of March 25, 1765, is the following extract from a 
letter from a merchant in New York, addressed to a person in Providence: "It is 
with the greatest pleasure I can acquaint you that your worthy governor's treatise 
on the ' Rights of the Colonies,' which hath been republished here, meets with the 
highest approbation, and even admiration, of the inhabitants of this city in general; 
and I doubt not but every friend to liberty and this country, wherever he be, will 
equally admire the spirit and reasoning of the honorable author." 


principles ; especially were they a unit in claiming, in the 
language of the Virginia assembly, " their ancient and in- 
estimable right of being governed by such laws respecting 
their internal polity and taxation as were derived from 
their own consent, with the approbation of the sovereign or 
his substitute." 1 

I have not met with any other references to a correspond- 
ence between the assemblies by their committees, during 
the year 1764, than those already noticed. The Boston In- 
structions of May were the only state-paper of a public body 
against the proposed Stamp Act printed in the journals 
until September, 2 when the address of the New- York assem- 
bly to the governor appeared. 3 The petitions of Massachu- 
setts 4 and Virginia 5 were not in circulation until March. 

1 The "Boston Gazette" of Sept. 17, 1764, advertises as just published "The 
Sentiments of a British American." This pamphlet was written by Oxenbridge 
Thacher, one of the representatives of Boston. It says : 

" It is esteemed an essential British right, that no person shall be subject to any tax but 
what in person or by his representative he hath a voice in laying." "The colonies have ever 
supported a subordinate government among themselves. Being placed at such a distance from 
the capital, it is absolutely impossible they should continue a part of the kingdom in the same 
sense as the corporations there are. For this reason, from the beginning, there hath been a 
subordinate legislature among them, subject to the control of the mother-state, and from the 
necessities of the case there must have been such ; their circumstances and situation being 
in many respects so different from that of the parent State, they could not have subsisted 
without this. Now, the colonists have always been taxed by their own representatives and in 
their respective legislatures, and have supported an entire domestic government among them- 

2 The memorial adopted by Massachusetts, June 13, 1764, was printed only in 
Otis's " Rights of the Colonies " and the Journal of the House. 

3 This address was copied into the " Boston Gazette " of Sept. 24, 1764. 

4 The petition of the Council and House, dated Nov. 4, 1764, was printed in 
the " Boston Evening Post" of March 11, 1765, accompanied by the following para- 
graph at the head: "From the 'S.-Carolina Gazette' of Feb. 6, 1765. A corre- 
spondent has favored us with the following, which may enable our readers to form 
some judgment of the present application to parliament of the northern colonies for 
the repeal of the Sugar Act, &c., &c." At the end is the following: " The petitions 
and representations of New York, Rhode Island, &c., are much to the same effect 
with the above, most of them exceeding it in length and pathos. As these petitions 
may be supposed to be about this time under the consideration of parliament, in 
two or three months we may receive accounts of their reception by that august and 
supreme legislative body." 

5 The Virginia papers were printed in the " Massachusetts Gazette " of March 
21, 1765, with the following introduction : " Having obtained a copy of an Address, 
Memorial, and Remonstrance of the Council and House of Burgesses of Virginia, 
we are requested to publish them, not doubting but they will be agreeable to most 
of our readers." 


The patriots, however, reached the people through the 
press. A forcible appeal in one journal was often copied 
into others. A calm, clear, and admirable presentation of 
the whole American question spoke of the colonists as 
being, with respect to government, really the happiest peo- 
ple of any under the sun, as believing that Britain had laid 
the foundation of the greatest empire that ever existed, the 
more glorious as it was for ages to come destined to be the 
asylum of the oppressed ; and averred that they owed all 
this prosperity to no other cause than that which made 
Rome the mistress of the world, gave grandeur, riches, and 
power to Venice and Holland, and constituted the glory 
of Britain, Liberty. It declared that nothing but oppres- 
sion could unite the colonies in a design for independence, 
and that without Union they could do nothing. 1 Another 
argument runs thus, " It is seldom, indeed very seldom, 
that any people have had more at stake than we at present 
have. Whether we shall be taxed arbitrarily or at the will 
of others in our internal police, is a question that is now 
deciding in Great Britain ; and this question amounts sim- 
ply to this, Whether we shall have any thing we can call 
our own or not." 2 An impassioned appeal, expressed in 
violent terms, indignantly asked, If the rights and privi- 
leges of the people, as Englishmen, are violated, what 
reason, then, can remain why they should prefer the British 
to the French government or any other ? They will hate 
and abhor ministerial power ; and, " as soon as ever they 
are able, will throw it off." 3 Another writer argued, that, 
u if the interests of the mother-country and the colonies can- 
not be made to coincide, if one constitution may not do 
for both, if she requires the sacrifice of their most valu- 
able natural rights, " their right of making their own 

1 Boston Gazette, Sept. 10, 1764, copied from the New York Mercury of Aug. 27. 

2 Boston Evening Post of Feb. 4, 1765, copied from the Providence Gazette of 
Jan. 21, 1765. 

8 Boston Evening Post, March 25, 1765. 


laws and disposing of their own property by representatives 
of their own choosing, . . . then the connection between 
them ought to cease, and sooner or later it must inevitably 
cease." 1 These citations show the sentiment of the Whigs. 
They held, that, if taxation were imposed on them, in any 
shape, unless they had a legal representation where it 
was laid, they would be " reduced from the character of 
free subjects to the miserable state of tributary slaves." 2 
Thus the proposed Stamp Act was held up as an aggression 
on what had become a grand historical influence in America, 
local self-government. 

The petitions sent to England against the Stamp Act 
proved of no avail in preventing its passage. The ministers 
appealed successfully to the moneyed classes, by holding out 
the prospect of being relieved from taxation ; and to the 
national pride, by averring that the right of sovereignty 
over the colonies was in issue, and ought to be settled : and 
all parties joined in favor of the new policy. In the House 
of Commons, when the bill imposing a duty on stamps was 
under consideration, even the gush of eloquence of Isaac 
Barre*, in which he called the Americans " Sons of Liberty," 3 

1 Freeman, quoted by Bancroft, v. 284, under the date of May, 1765. 

2 Boston Instructions. 

8 This famous speech was heard by Jared Ingersoll of Connecticut, who sent 
over a report of it in a letter, which was printed in the newspapers under the head 
of" New London, May 10, 1765." The next year he published a pamphlet, entitled 
"Mr. Ingersoll's Letters relating to the Stamp Act," having a preface dated "New 
Haven, June 15, 1766." In this pamphlet the report is much altered, and is the 
version commonly met with. Thus the 1766 version begins, "They planted," &c. ; 
that of 1765 begins, " Children planted," &c. In the 1766 version, the next sen- 
tence is, " They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and unhospitable 
country: " the 1765 version is, " They fled from your tyranny into a then unculti- 
vated land." There are upwards of thirty variations. I copy the original letter from 
the ' Boston Post Boy and Advertiser" of May 27, 1765: 

Mr. diaries Towns/tend spoke in favor of the bill (stamp duty), and concluded his speech 
by saying to the following effect : 

"These children of our own planting (speaking of Americans), nourished by our indul- 
gence until they are grown to a good degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our 
arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy load of natioual 
expense which we lie under?" 

Which having eaid and sat down, Mr. Barre arose, and, with eyes darting fire and an out- 


did not prevent the debate from being termed languid : 
there was not a show of opposition in the House of Lords ; 
the bill passed by a great majority ; and, on the 22d of 
March, 1765, the act " that will be remembered as long as 
the globe lasts," received the royal assent. It provided that 
all bills, bonds, leases, notes, ships' papers, insurance poli- 
cies, and legal documents, to be valid in the courts, must 
be written on stamped paper, which was to be sold by public 
offices at prices that constituted a tax. In connection with 
this was the law which extended the jurisdiction of vice- 
admiralty courts in such a way as to exclude trial by jury. 

The Stamp Act found a public sentiment in the colonies 
prepared to oppose it as an internal tax. All parties re- 
garded it in this light. Some were in favor of yielding 
obedience to it as the law ; but the Whigs, though a por- 
tion of them involuntarily hesitated at the idea of resist- 
ing the execution of an act of parliament, soon became 

stretched arm, spoke as follows, with a voice somewhat elevated and with a sternness in his 
countenance which expressed in a most lively manner the feelings of his heart : 

"Children planted by your care? No! Your oppression planted them in Amirica ; they 
fled from your tyranny into a then uncultivated land, where they were exposed to almost all 
the hardships to which human nature is liable, and, among others, to the savage cruelty of the 
enemy of the country, a people the most subtle, and, I take upon me to say, the most truly 
terrible of any people that ever inhabited any part of GOD'S EARTH ; and yet, actuated by 
principles of true English, liberty, they met all these hardships with pleasure, compared with 
those they.suffered in their own country from the hands of those that should have been their 

"They nourished up by your indulgence? They grew by your neglect of them. As soon 
as you began to care about them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule over them, 
in one department and another, who were perhaps the deputies of some deputy of members 
of this House, sent to spy out their liberty, to misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon 
them, men whose behavior, on many occasions, has caused the blood of those Sons of 
LIBERTY to recoil within them, men promoted to the highest seats of justice : some, to my 
knowledge, were glad by going to foreign countries to escape being brought to a bar of jus- 
tice in their own. 

" They protected by your arms? They have nobly taken up arms in your defence, have 
exerted their valor, amidst their constant and laborious industry, for the defence of a country 
whose frontiers, while drenched in blood, its interior parts have yielded all its little savings to 
your enlargement; and, BELIEVE ME, REMEMBER I THIS DAY TOLD YOU so, that the 
same spirit which actuated that people at first will continue with them still ; but prudence 
forbids me to explain myself any further. GOD KNOWS, I do not at this time speak from 
motives of party heat. What I deliver are the genuine sentiments of my heart ; however 
superior to me in general knowledge and experience the respectable body of this House may 
be, yet I claim to know more of America than most of you, having seen and been conversant 
in that country. The people there are as truly loyal, I believe, as any subjects the king has ; 
but a people jealous of their liberties, and who will vindicate them, if they should be vio- 
lated. But the subject is too delicate. I will say no more." 


united in the view that submission would be a badge of 

The newspapers abound with detail relative to a passive 
resistance to the new policy, the movement in favor of 
domestic manufactures and of a non-importation agreement. 
As the preparations appeared to enforce the oppressive Acts 
of Trade, it was asked in the press, " Is it impossible for the 
colonies ever to unite, and endeavor to prevent their destruc- 
tion ? " 1 The traditionary idea of union, partially acted 
upon during the previous year in commercial and political 
matters, naturally suggested itself anew by the passage of 
the Stamp Act. 

The Legislature of Massachusetts met soon after the re- 
ception of this news. James Otis was a member of the 
House. He was moody, impulsive, and at times rash in 
expression, but full of generous aims for the good of his 
country. He had seasons of such exaltation, that he seemed 
to himself to hear the prophetic song of the sibyls chanting 
the spring-time of a new empire. 2 His hope rested on 
forming such a union of the colonies as " should knit and 
work into the very blood and bones of the original system,, 
every region as fast as settled." 3 He suggested 4 that there- 
should be a meeting of committees from the assemblies 
to consider the danger of the colonies, and unite in a 
petition for a relief. The patriots hardly had a working 
majority in the House ; but the loyalists saw that it would 
be impossible to defeat this proposition, and, with the 
object of controlling the movement, aimed to keep it in 
their hands. 5 Thus a resolve to carry out the suggestion of 
Otis was unanimously adopted. The House selected for the 
delegates James Otis and two others, Oliver Partridge and 
Timothy Ruggles, wh'om the governor characterized as " fast 
friends of government, prudent and discreet men, who 

1 Boston Gazette, Nov. 28, 1763. 2 Bancroft, v. 295. 

3 Otis, cited by Bancroft, v. 292. 4 Warren's American Revolution, i. 31. 

6 Gordon, i. 172. 



would never consent to any improper application to the 
government of Great Britain." 1 The House adopted a cir- 
cular, and ordered it to be signed by the speaker, and to be 
sent to the several assemblies on the continent. It was a 
comprehensive measure, designed to lay the foundation for 
the union of all the colonies in opposition to the new policy, 
when the opinion was common that union between them was 
impracticable. 2 

The early response to the circular was unpromising. 
The speaker of the New Jersey Assembly promptly replied, 
that the members of that body were " unanimously against 
uniting on the present occasion ; " 3 and for several weeks 
no movement appeared in favor of the great and wise 
measure of convening a congress. It soon, however, re- 
ceived a powerful impetus. It was said of Virginia, that the 
intelligence of the passage of the Stamp Act " filled the whole 

1 Ibid., iii. 173. 

2 The legislature met on the 29th of May. Qn the 6th of June, a committee of 
nine was appointed to consider the state of public affairs; namely, Mr. Speaker 
(Samuel White), Brigadier Ruggles, Colonel Partridge, Colonel VVorthington, Gen- 
eral Winslow, Mr. Otis, Mr. Gushing, Colonel Saltonstall, and Captain Sheafe. The 
committee reported the resolve for a congress the same day. The Speaker, Otis, 
and Mr. Lee were appointed to prepare the circular. This was adopted on the 8th. 
On the 24th, a committee was chosen to prepare instructions to the delegates and a 
letter to the agent. On the 25th, the House v ordered " that all the proceedings relative 
to sending a committee to New York be printed in this day's journals," &c. Jour- 
nals of the House. The circular was also printed in the " Boston Evening Post " of 
Aug. 26, 1765, and is as follows: 

BOSTON, June 8, 1765. 

SIR, The House of Representatives of this province, in the present session of General 
Court, have unanimously agreed to propose a meeting, as soon as may be, of committees from 
the houses of representatives or burgesses of the several British colonies on this continent, to 
consult together on the present circumstances of the colonies, and the difficulties to which 
they are and must be reduced by the operation of the acts of parliament for levying duties 
and taxes on the colonies, and to consider of a general and united, dutiful, loyal, and humble 
representation of their condition to his majesty and to the parliament, and to implore relief. 
The House of Representatives of this' province have also voted to propose, that such meeting 
be at the city of New York, in the province of New York, on the first Tuesday in October 
next, and have appointed the committee of three of their members to attend that service, with 
such as the other houses of representatives or burgesses, in the several colonies, may think fit 
to appoint to meet them ; and the committee of the House of Representatives of this province 
are directed to repair to the said New York, on the first Tuesday in October next, accordingly ; 
if, therefore, your honorable House should agree to this proposal, it would be acceptable 
that as early notice of it as possible might be transmitted to the Speaker of the House of Repre- 
sentatives of this province. SAMUEL WHITE, Speaker. 

8 Letter from the Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, June 20, 1765. 


colony with the utmost consternation and astonishment." l 
The House of Burgesses, then in session, delayed action. 
A vacancy enabled the people of Louisa County, in May, to 
elect Patrick Henry a member. He was a young man who had 
failed as a merchant and had struggled manfully with pov- 
erty ; but, after a short course of study, had become a lawyer, 
and was in a lucrative and growing practice. He was of an 
ungainly figure, wore coarse clothes, loved music, dancing, 
and pleasantry, and, among his boon companions, would talk 
of the " yearth " and of " men's naiteral parts being improved 
by larnin." 2 He had singleness of aim, an indwelling love 
of liberty, depths that could be profoundly stirred, and won- 
derful intellectual gifts. His gushing, fiery, and thrilling 
eloquence had been heard before a committee of the bur- 
gesses ; but this was his first term as a member. He en- 
tered the assembly with the general indignation intensified 
in him as in a focus. Within three days of the close of the 
session, he took a blank leaf of a law-book, and wrote on it 
a series of resolves, to the effect that the people of Virginia 
were entitled, as subjects, to the privileges enjoyed by the 
people of England ; that they had the right of being " gov- 
erned by their own assembly, in the article of their taxes 
and internal police ; " that attempts to vest such power in 
any other persons " had a tendency to destroy British as 
well as American freedom ; " and that the people were not 
bound to obey any other law imposing a tax. These reso- 
lutions were seconded by Mr. Johnston ; but were opposed 
by Bland, Pendleton, Randolph, and Wythe, on the ground 
that the burgesses had expressed similar views in a more 
conciliatory way. In this debate, the genius of the native 
orator soared to such heights, that to Jefferson, a delighted 
listener, Henry seemed to speak as Homer wrote. He 
startled the House with " a warning flash from history " as he 
exclaimed, " Tarquin and Caesar had each a Brutus ; Charles 
the First, his Cromwell; and George the Third" and 

1 Letter in Boston Gazette, July 22, 1765. 

2 Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry", 53. 


paused, when the speaker cried " Treason ! " and the word 
was repeated on the floor, while Henry, with his eye fixed 
on the chair, closed the sentence, " may profit by their ex- 
ample." l Four resolves only were entered on the journal, 
when the governor dissolved the assembly. The series, con- 
sisting of six resolves and a preamble, were printed in the 
newspapers as having been adopted, 2 and had a marked effect 

1 I copy the version in Bancroft, v. 277. Jefferson (Wirt's Henry, 84) mentions 
Henry's pause. The relation is somewhat different in Wirt, 83. 

2 There is much matter about these resolves in Wirt's " Life of Henry." Here (80) 
will be found the four resolves as recorded on the journals, May 30, 1765. Also (74) 
a copy printed from Henry's handwriting. Neither correspond with the series as 
originally printed. The Massachusetts Assembly, when they issued their circular, 
did not know of the action of the Virginia Assembly. The series of resolves, as they 
contributed to shape public opinion, appeared in " The New Port Mercury " June 24, 
and were copied into the Boston papers of July 1. I print for reference from the 
" Boston Gazette." There are but slight variations in it from the copy in Marshall 
ii., App. 26: 

Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Philadelphia to his friend in this town, dated last 
Tuesday : 

I have enclosed the resolves of the Virginia Assembly on debating the Stamp Act. The 
governor, as soon as he heard what they were about, sent for them, and without preamble, 
told them he would dissolve them ; and that minute they were dissolved. As they are of an 
extraordinary nature, [I] thought they might not be disagreeable. They are as follows : 

Whereas the Hon. Ilouse of Commons, in England, have of late drawn into question how 
far the General Assembly of this colony hath power to enact laws for laying of taxes and im- 
posing duties, payable by the people of this his majesty's most ancient colony : for settling 
and ascertaining the same to all future times, the Ilouse of Burgesses of this present General 
Assembly have come to the following resolves : 

Resolved, That the first adventurers, settlers of this his majesty's colony and dominions of 
Virginia, brought with them and transmitted to their posterity, and all other his majesty's 
subjects since inhabiting in this his majesty's colony, all the privileges and immunities that 
have at any time been held, enjoyed, and possessed by the people of Great Britain. 

Resolved, That by two royal charters, granted by King James the First, the colony 
aforesaid are declared and entitled to all privileges and immunities of natural-born subjects, to 
all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and born within the realm of England 

Resolved, That his majesty's liege people of this his ancient colony have enjoyed the right 
of being thus governed by their own assembly in the article of taxes and internal police, and 
that the same have never been forfeited, or any other way yielded up. but have been con- 
stantly recognized by the king and people of Britain. 

Resolved, therefore, That the General Assembly of this colony, together with his majesty 
or his substitutes, have, in their representative capacity, the only exclusive right and power to 
lay taxes and imposts upon the inhabitants of this colony ; and that every attempt to vest 
such power in any other person or persons whatever than the General Assembly aforesaid, 
is illegal, unconstitutional, and unjust, and have a manifest tendency to destroy British as 
well as American liberty. 

Resolved, That his majesty's liege people, the inhabitants of this colony, are not bound to 
yield obedience to any law or ordinance whatever, designed to impose any taxation whatsoever 
upon them, other than the laws or ordinances of the General Assembly aforesaid. 

Resolved, That any person who shall, by speaking or writing, assert or maintain that any 
person or persons other than the General Assembly of this colony have any right or power to 
impose or lay any taxation on the people here, shall be deemed an enemy to his majesty's colony. 


on public opinion. The principle they embodied as to taxa- 
tion had been early asserted: the tone of opposition was 
exceeded by the issues of the press ; but it was heralded as 
the voice of a colony. It was a bold stroke in this way to 
proclaim, that no obedience was due to a law imposing a 
tax not sanctioned by a general assembly. 

The fame of the resolves spread as they were circulated 
in the journals, and in a short time the people could read 
the apt historical reference of the " forest-born Demos- 
thenes," as he pointed George III. to memorable examples. 1 
The Whigs hailed the action of the Old Dominion with ad- 
miration. It was said in the press, " The people of Virginia 
have spoken very sensibly, and the frozen politicians of a 
more northern government say they have spoken treason." 2 
Oxenbridge Thacher, as he lay on his death-bed, expressed 
the feeling of the patriots, as he exclaimed, " Oh ! those Vir- 
ginians are men : they are noble spirits." The commander 
of the British force in New York wrote home, that the resolves 
gave the signal for a general outcry over the continent. 3 

This Virginia action, like an alarum, roused the patriots 
to pass similar resolves. The town of Providence, in pub- 
lic meeting, instructed their representatives, in the first 
place, to use their utmost endeavors to have commissioners 
appointed to attend a congress to meet other commission- 
ers at New York, agreeably to the proposal of the Massa- 
chusetts province ; and then, to procure the passage of a 
series of resolves, in which were incorporated those adopted 
by Virginia, as the voice of the colony. This stands out in 
the proceedings of the time as another bold utterance. 4 
It was a timely and welcome indorsement of the action of 

1 Letter from Virginia, June 14, 1765, in " London Gazetteer," Aug. 13, 1765 j and 
a New-York paper, Oct. 31, 1765. Bancroft, v. 277. 

2 Boston Gazette, July 8, 1765. 3 Gage to Conway, Sept. 23, 1765. 

4 These resolves were passed Aug. 13, and occupy about a column and a half of 
the Boston papers of Aug. 19. In the "Boston Post Boy" of March 24, 1766, it 
is said that Providence was the first town on the continent that instructed their 
representatives after the passage of the Stamp Act. 


Massachusetts and Virginia. This is the way in which the 
two most important of the thirteen colonies went hand in 
hand in rolling the ball of revolution. 

The resolves of Providence gave the influence of a town 
in favor of the proposed Congress, an example warmly 
commended by the press. Soon after their publication, it 
became known that a colony had chosen delegates. When 
the Massachusetts circular was debated in the assembly of 
South Carolina, and the opposition to it by the Tories was 
strong, Christopher Gadsden, who, it is said, " was born a 
republican," advocated the measure with a noble zeal. He 
was sent to England for his education ; and learned Latin, 
Greek, and French, and subsequently the Hebrew and Orien- 
tal languages. He was trained in mercantile affairs in Phila- 
delphia, and at Charleston became a merchant of large 
enterprise. He acted in the belief that the American cause 
was the cause of liberty and human nature. He was a great, 
wise, and good man. To him belongs no small share of 
the merit of persuading the assembly to adopt this measure 
of choosing commissioners. 1 The Whigs, in all quarters, 
favored the project. The Tories ridiculed or opposed it. In 
a short time, it was announced that Pennsylvania, Rhode 
Island, and Connecticut had chosen delegates. Boston, in 
town-meeting, expressed the greatest satisfaction at the pros- 
pect that most of the colonies would unite ; 2 the press 
heartily commended the Congress, and reproduced the old 
device of Franklin, with its motto, " Join or Die." 3 All 
the original thirteen colonies either expressed sympathy or 
chose delegates ; and thus union was welcomed as befitting 

the dignity, the honor, and the needs of a free people. 


1 Ramsay's South Carolina, ii. 457, 459. The delegates from this colony were 
appointed Aug. 2. They were announced in the " Boston Post Boy," Aug. 26. The 
Providence Resolves were passed Aug. 13, and were immediately printed. 

2 Boston Instructions in " Massachusetts Gazette," Sept. 19. 

8 The " Constitutional Courant," " printed by Andrew Marvell, at the sign of the 
bribe refused, on Constitutional Hill, North America," appeared with this motto on 
the 21st of September; and the figure, with the address, appears in the " Boston Post 
Boy" of Oct. 7. 


Meantime, "The Sons of Liberty" a term that grew 
into use soon after the publication of Barrels speech 1 
were entering into associations .to resist, by all lawful means, 
the execution of the Stamp Act. 2 They were long kept 
secret, which occasioned loyalists to say, that there was a 
private union among a certain sect of republican principles 
from one end of the continent to the other. 3 As they in- 
creased in numbers, they grew in boldness and publicity, 
announcing in the newspapers their committees of corre- 
spondence, and interchanging solemn pledges of support. 
The Virginia resolves, as circulated in the press, declaring 
that no obedience was due to the Stamp Act, strengthened 
the purpose of these associations. Their organization, from 
the first, meant business of the most determined character. 
It was Cromwellian in its aims, going straight to the mark 
of forcible resistance. Though it was imbued with one 
spirit, circumstances occasioned the special manifestations. 
Thus, when the Virginia resolves had been for a month 
doing their mission, the names of the stamp distributers 
appeared at Boston ; and, six days afterwards, those transac- 
tions occurred here, at the time Andrew Oliver promised 
not to serve as stamp officer, which made the " Fourteenth 
of August " memorable as the anniversary of the uprising of 
the people against the Stamp Act. As a great concourse 
gathering under the elm, subsequently named Liberty Tree, 
marched through the streets, the words " Liberty, Property, 
and No Stamps " passed from mouth to mouth. They 
proved to be talisrnanic words. They were echoed in 
processions formed in other places for similar purposes. 

1 The " Boston Gazette " of Aug. 12, 1765, announced that the town of Providence 
had met and chosen a committee to instruct their representatives, who were to 
report " to-morrow," when it said, " Those Sous of Liberty were to convene again 
for the noblest of all causes, their country's good ; " and it commended the example 
to other towns. 

2 " I am informed that associations are forming to which several thousands have 
subscribed in that government, in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in concert with 
the other American governments, to draw up remonstrances to his majesty, &c., and 
to oppose this tremendous act by all lawful means." Boston Gazette, July 22, 1765. 

3 Galloway's Letter, Jan. 13, 1766. 


In some cases, the unhappy stamp distributers were com- 
pelled to stand high before the people and shout, " Liberty, 
Property, and No Stamps.". These words became a favor- 
ite toast, and stood as a motto at the head of the press. 1 
In their name were committed outrages similar to those 
which characterized popular outbreaks in England, the 
destruction of buildings, plundering, and personal wrong. 2 
This work had been ascribed to the republican cause, and 
enabled its enemies to connect it with anarchy and bring it 
to ruin. In America, where the people had grown up in a 
spirit of reverence for law as well as a love of liberty, 
these outrages occasioned deep abhorrence, and constituted 
a profitable lesson. 3 

When the public mind was thus inflamed, the members 
chosen to attend the congress met, Oct. 7, in the City Hall 
at New York, 4 which abounded with the bitterness, strife, 
and all the elements of a political paroxysm. In no place 
were the Sons of Liberty more determined, or were their 
opponents more influential. 5 It was the headquarters of the 

1 The " Boston Post Boy and Advertiser" of Nov. 18, 1765, placed at its head 
this line: " The united voice of all his majesty's free and loyal subjects in America. 
Liberty and Property and No Stamps." 

2 The following are the dates, obtained in the newspapers, of the popular up- 
risings: In Boston, Aug. 14; Norwich, Aug. 21; New London, Aug. 22; Providence, 
Aug. 24; Lebanon, Aug. 26; Newport, Aug. 27; Windham, Aug. 27; Annapolis, 
Aug. 29; Elk Ridge, Aug. 30; New Haven, Sept. 6; Portsmouth, Sept. 12; Dover, 
Sept. 13; Philadelphia, Oct. 5; New York, Nov. 1. The greatest outrages were 
committed in Boston on the 26th of August, in Newport on the 27th, at Annapolis on 
the 29th, and at New York on the 1st of November, in which houses were damaged 
or demolished. 

3 The anniversary of the 14th of August, 1765, the date of the uprising against 
the Stamp Act, was observed for several years by the patriots ; but, at the first 
celebration, held under " the sacred elm." Liberty Tree, the tenth toast was, " May 
the 26th of August, 1765 (the date of the assault on Hutchinson's House), be veiled 
in perpetual darkness." 

4 At the time of the first meeting, Sept. 30, Maryland and New Jersey had not 
chosen delegates. On Tuesday, Oct. 1, an express arrived, informing that delegates 
would be chosen from Maryland; and, on the next day, another, stating that the 
members of the New Jersey assembly would choose. Boston Post Boy, Oct. 14. 

6 Much interesting matter relative to " The Sons of Liberty in New York " may 
be found in " A paper read before the New-York Historical Society, May 3, 1859, 
by Henry B. Dawson," and printed for private distribution. 


British force in America, the commander of which, General 
Gage, wielded the powers of a viceroy. A fort within the 
city was heavily mounted with cannon. Ships of war were 
moored near the wharves. The executive, Lieutenant-gov- 
ernor Golden, was resolved to execute the law. When the 
Massachusetts delegates called on him, he remarked that 
the proposed congress would be unconstitutional, and un- 
precedented, and he should give it no countenance. 1 

The congress consisted of twenty-eight delegates from 
nine of the colonies ; four, though sympathizing with the 
movement, not choosing representatives. 2 Here several of 

1 Boston Post Boy, Oct. 14, 1765. 

2 The congress consisted of members chosen and commissioned as follows : 
MASSACHUSETTS. James Otis, Oliver Partridge, Timothy Ruggles. They were 

chosen, June 8, by the general assembly, and bore a commission signed by Samuel 
White, speaker. 

SOUTH CAROLINA. Thomas Lynch, Christopher Gadsden, John Rutledge. 
They were chosen, Aug. 2, by the assembly, and bore the journal of the votes of 
their election, signed by Edward Rawlins, speaker. 

PENNSYLVANIA. John Dickenson, John Morton, George Bryan. They were 
chosen, Sept. 11, by the assembly, and bore instructions signed by Charles Moore, 

RHODE ISLAND. Metcalf Bowler, Henry Ward. They were chosen by the 
assembly, and bore a commission signed by Samuel Ward, the governor. 

CONNECTICUT. Eliphalet Dyer, David Rowland, William S. Johnson. They 
were chosen, Sept. 19, by the assembly, and bore a copy of the vote appointing 
them, and instructions signed by Thomas Fitch, the governor. 

DELAWARE. Thomas McKean, Caesar Rodney. They were designated in- 
formally by fifteen of the eighteen members of the assembly, and bore three instru- 
ments, dated Sept. 13, 17, and 20, and signed by the members from the counties of 
NCAV Castle, Kent, and Sussex. 

MARYLAND. William Murdock, Edward Tilghman, Thomas Ringgold. They 
were chosen by the assembly in October, and bore a commission signed by Robert 
Lloyd, speaker. 

NEW JERSEY. Robert Ogden, Hendrick Fisher, Joseph Borden. They were 
designated by " a large number of the representatives," Oct. 3, and bore a certificate 
signed John Lawrence. 

NEW YORK. Robert R. Livingston, John Cruger, Philip Livingston, William 
Bayard, Leonard Lespinward. They bore a certified copy of the votes of the jour- 
nals, dated April 4, 171- (April 4, 1759), Dec. 9, 1762, and Oct. 18, 1764, constituting 
u the members of the city of New York " and " Robert R. Livingston " a committee 
of correspondence. See p. 171, where the first date is March 9, 1759. 

Virginia, New Hampshire, Georgia, and North Carolina did not send delegates. 
The " Journal of the Proceedings " contains a letter from the New-Hampshire assem- 
bly, dated June 29, 1765, signed A. Clarkson, clerk, approving of the Congress, and 
promising to join in any address they might be honored with the knowledge of; and 


the patriots, who had discussed the American question in 
their localities, met for the first time. James Otis stood in 
this body the, foremost speaker ; and his pen, with the pens of 
the brothers Roger and Philip Livingston, of New York, were 
summoned to service in a wider field. John Dickenson, of 
Pennsylvania, was soon to be known through the colonies 
by " The Farmer's Letters." Thomas McKean and Cassar 
Rodney were pillars of the cause in Delaware. Edward 
Tilghman was an honored name in Maryland. South Caro- 
lina, in addition to the intrepid Gadsden, had, in Thomas 
Lynch and John Rutledge, two patriots who appear promi- 
nently in the subsequent career of that colony. Thus this 
body was graced by large ability, genius, learning, and com- 
mon sense. It was calm in its deliberations, seeming un- 
moved by the whirl of the political waters. 

The congress organized by the choice, by one vote, of 
Timothy Ruggles, a Tory, as the chairman, and John 
Cotton, clerk. The second day of its session, it took into 
consideration the rights, privileges, and grievances of " the 
British American colonists;" and, after eleven days' debate, 
it agreed each colony having one vote upon a declara- 
tion of rights and grievances, and ordered it to be inserted in 
the journal. This earliest embodiment of principles by an 
American congress consists of a preamble and fourteen re- 
solves. They expressed the warmest sentiments of affection 
and duty to the king, " all due subordination to that august 
body, the parliament," and claimed all the inherent rights 
and privileges of natural-born subjects within the kingdom of 
Great Britain. They affirmed that it is inseparably essential 
to the freedom of a people, and one of the undoubted rights 

a letter from Georgia, dated Sept. 6, signed Alexander Wylly, in behalf of sixteen 
of the twenty-five representatives, warmly sympathizing with the cause, and stating 
that the governor would not call them together, but promising a concurrence with 
the action. These letters were addressed to the Speaker of the Massachusetts as- 

The statements in this note are derived from the " Journal of the Proceedings " 
of this congress in Niles' " Principles and Acts of the Revolution," p. 451. 


of Englishmen, that taxes cannot be imposed on them with- 
out their own consent, given personally or through their 
representatives ; that the colonists could not be represented 
in the House of Commons, and could be represented only 
in their respective legislatures ; and that no taxes could be 
constitutionally imposed on them but by these legislatures. 
They declared that the trial by jury is the inherent and 
invaluable right of every British subject in these colonies ; 
and they arraigned the recent acts of parliament as having a 
manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the 

The congress then matured an address to His Majesty, a 
memorial to the House of Lords, and a petition to the House 
of Commons, which were ordered to be engrossed. 1 These 
papers enlarge on the two main points of the resolves ; 
namely, the claims respecting taxation and the trial by jury. 
They say, " We glory in being subjects of the best of kings, 
having been born under the most perfect form of govern- 
ment." They express an ardent desire for a continuation 
of the connection between Great Britain and America ; and 
aver that the most effectual way to secure this would be by 
fixing the pillars thereof on liberty and justice, and by re- 
cognizing the inherent rights of the people ; specifying, as 
essential to freedom, self-taxation and trial by jury. They 
emphasize the important and vital point, that the remote 
situation and peculiar circumstances of the colonists ren- 
dered it impossible they should be represented except in 
their respective subordinate legislatures, which, as nearly 
as convenient, had been moulded after that of the mother 
country, and exercised full powers of legislation under the 
English constitution. They averred that they and their 
ancestors had been born under the forms of government 

1 The committee on the address to the king were Robert R. Livingston, William 
Samuel Johnson, and William Murdock; on the memorial to the House of Lords, 
John Rutledge, Edward Tilghman, and Philip Livingston; on the petition to the 
House of Commons, Thomas Lynch, James Otis, and Thomas McKean. 


which had been established here, and which had protected 
their lives, liberties, and properties ; 'that they entertained 
great fondness for old customs and usages ; and they prayed 
that these circumstaness might be taken into consideration 
and their just rights restored. 

These resolves and petitions elicited long debates. Only 
few memorials, however, remain of the sentiments of the 
speakers. Some of the members pleaded, as the foundation 
of their liberties, charters from the crown. Robert R. Living- 
ston, of New York, would not consent to base American 
liberties on such a foundation. Christopher Gadsden, who 
objected to petitioning parliament, on the ground that the 
colonists derived their rights neither from Lords nor Com- 
mons, with clear discrimination and in memorable words, 
said, " A confirmation of our essential and common rights as 
Englishmen may be pleaded from charters safely enough ; 
but any further dependence on them may be fatal. We 
should stand upon the broad, common ground of those natural 
rights that we all feel and know as men and as descendants 
of Englishmen. I wish the charters may not ensnare us at 
last, by drawing different colonies to act differently in this 
great cause. Whenever that is the case, all will be over 
with the whole. There ought to be no New-England man, 
no New-Yorker, known on the Continent ; but all of us 
Americans." 1 

The congress advised the colonies to appoint special agents 
to solicit relief, and for this purpose to unite their utmost 
endeavors. When the matter of signing was discussed, some 
of the members objected, and urged that each colony ought 
to petition separately. The chairman, Ruggles, said, " It was 
against his conscience " to sign ; when McKean, of Dela- 
ware, " rung the change on the word conscience so loud," that 

1 Bancroft, v. 335. Pitkin, in .his " Political and Civil History of the United 
States," &c., ii. 448, 1828, printed an elaborate " Report of a Committee on the 
Subject of Colonial Rights," from a copy found among the papers of Dr. Johnson, 
one of the members from Connecticut. A comparison of this paper with the papers 
adopted by the congress shows that it was much used by their authors. 


Ruggles gave him a challenge before all the members, which 
was promptly accepted by McKean. 1 The delegates present 
from only six of the colonies except Haggles and Ogden 
signed the petition ; those from New York, Connecticut, and 
South Carolina not being authorized to sign. On the 25th 
of October, the congress adjourned. 2 

Special measures were taken to transmit the proceedings 
to the unrepresented colonies. 3 The several assemblies, on 
meeting, heartily approved of the course of their delegates 
who concurred in the action of congress ; but Ruggles, of 
Massachusetts, was reprimanded by the speaker in the name 
of the House, and Ogden, of New Jersey, was hung in effigy 
by the people. 4 The action of the assemblies was announced 
in the press: 5 Meanwhile the Sons of Liberty, through 

1 John Adams's Works, x. 61. McKenn says Ruggles left early the next morn- 
ing, without an adieu to any of his brethren. 

2 The clerk was directed to sign the minutes of the proceedings of this congress, 
and deliver a copy for the use of each colony. -Two sets were sent immediately 
to England by two vessels. The Declaration of Rights is in the " Massachusetts 
Gazette " of March 20, 1766, copied from the " Providence Gazette Extraordi- 
nary;" the three petitions are in the " Boston Gazette" of April 14, 1766. The 
" Providence Gazette " had a brief criticism on some of the points. The proceed- 
ings of the congress in part were printed in London by Almon in 1767. "Niles's 
Register" of July 25, 1812, contained the whole proceedings and documents, printed 
from a manuscript copy attested by the secretary, John Cotton. It was found among 
the papers of Ctesar Rodney. This was reprinted, in 1822, in Niles's " Principles 
and Acts of the Revolution," &c. 

8 The Congress, Oct. 25, resolved, " That the gentlemen from the Massachusetts 
Bay be requested to send a copy thereof to the colony of New Hampshire; the gen- 
tlemen of Maryland to Virginia; and the gentlemen of South Carolina to Georgia 
and North Carolina." Journal in Almon's Tracts, 1767. 

4 The newspapers announced (Boston Post, Dec. 16) that the conduct of Borden 
and Fisher of New Jersey was approved. Ogden was obliged to decline his place as 
speaker. The Massachusetts assembly, Feb. 12, voted, u That Brigadier Ruggles, 
with respect to his conduct at. the cong ess of New York, has been guilty of neglect 
of duty, and that he be reprimanded therefor by the speaker." This was done the 
next day. Boston Evening Post, Feb. 17, 1766. 

5 The Connecticut assembly ordered their committee to sign the petitions and for- 
ward them. Mass. Gazette, Nov. 14. The concurrence of the South-Carolina as- 
sembly Avas announced Dec. 2. The New York assembly approved of the attendance 
of their members, Nov. 20, and voted to send petitions to the king and the Lords and 
Commons. Their address to the Lords (Dec. 11, 1765) acknowledges " the Parlia- 
ment of Great Britain justly entitled to a supreme direction and government over 
the whole empire for a wise, powerful, and lasting preservation of the great bond of 


their committees of correspondence, urged a continental 
Union ; pledged a mutual support in case of danger ; in 
some instances stated the numbers of armed men that might 
be relied on ; and thus evinced a common determination to 
resist the execution of the Stamp Act. 1 If the thoughtful 
grieved at seeing the unscrupulous seize the occasion of 
a nullification of a bad law in order to break from all law, 
they rejoiced to see springing into activity a spirit of union. 
It was said in the press, " It is the joy of thousands that 
there is union and concurrence in a general congress ;" 2 it 
was judged that this body had transacted the most important 
business that ever came under consideration in America ; 
and Gadsden expressed the Americanism of the hour as 
he wrote, " Nothing will save us but acting together. The 
province that endeavors to act separately must fall with the 
rest, and be branded with everlasting infamy." 3 

While the thirteen colonies, viewed as a whole, presented 
this aspect of union, there was an embodiment of public 
sentiment, by local organizations, not less interesting or sig- 
nificant. It would require too much space to describe the 
doings of " the respectable populace " in their public meet- 
ings, or of towns in instructing their representatives, or the 
dealing with the stamped paper, or what took place on the 
day the odious act was to go into effect. The hurricane, 
which commenced on the 14th of August, did not soon 
spend its force. The political waters were lashed into waves 
of fearful height. In this time of confusion and tumult, 

union and the common safety." Journals of the Assembly. The Governor of Vir- 
ginia did not convene the assembly; but, in the "Journal of the Congress," this col- 
on}'' was understood to have concurred in the action. 

1 Gordon (i. 199) says that the Boston Sons of Liberty proposed, February, 1766, in 
a letter to the brotherhood at Norwich, a continental union, of which the latter greatly 
approved in a reply, Feb. 10. " The New-York Sons of Liberty sent circular letters 
as far as South Carolina, urging a continental union." Many of the towns of Massa- 
chusetts sent pledges to march with their whole force to defend those who should be 
in danger from their action on the Stamp Act. The same spirit prevailed in New 
York, Virginia, North Carolina, Connecticut, and other colonies. Bancroft, v. 427. 

2 New-London Gazette, Nov. 1, 1765, cited in Bancroft, v. 353. 
8 Bancroft, v. 359. 


the public sentiment was further embodied, in the general 
assemblies, in elabdrate series of resolves which were cir- 
culated in the newspapers. 1 The committees appointed to 
prepare these papers would be likely to refer to prior action, 
and to use terms at hand, in doing this not very easy work. 
An analysis of these resolves shows that this was the case. 
Sentences, and, indeed, entire resolves, in the Virginia se- 
ries, re-appear in those of Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode 
Island ; especially the words in which the colonial right 
was asserted " in the article of taxes and internal police ; " 
and the New-Jersey and South-Carolina series contain sev- 
eral of the resolves of congress. 

The above narrative of the proceedings in the colonies, 
growing out of the attempt of the ministry to carry out the 
new policy, shows how the two political schools regarded 
union when it was in American hands, and was urged for 
American objects. 

The party of the prerogative met the proposition to hold 
a congress with ridicule, or denounced it as disloyal. Lieu- 
tenant-Governor Golden, of New York, held that it would 
be inconsistent with the constitution of the colonies, by 
which their several governments were made distinct and 
independent of each other; 2 Governor Franklin, of New 

1 The newspapers, after the middle of August, are laden with the proceedings 
of towns and of meetings, as they were termed, " of the respectable populace " of 
localities, and are too numerous to specify. I give the dates of the resolves of the 
general assemblies, and where they appeared in print. These resolves were, per- 
haps universally, circulated at full length in the newspapers. 

Virginia. March 29. The whole series of resolves (see page 180) were circu- 
lated as having passed, and appeared first in a Newport paper, June 24. 

Rhode Island. The resolves of Providence, adopting the Virginia resolves and 
adding one on admiralty courts and trial by jury, were p'issed Aug. 13. The assem- 
bly resolves were passed in September, and are in the " Boston Evening Post," 
Sept. 23. 

Pennsylvania. Sept. 21. In the " Boston Post Boy," Oct. 7. 

Maryland. September. In the " Boston Post Boy," Oct. 21. 

Connecticut. October. In the " Boston Post Boy," Nov. 11. 

Massachusetts. Oct. 29. In the " Boston Gazette," Nov. 4. 

South Carolina. Nov. 29. In the " Boston Gazette," Nov. 29. 

New Jersey. Nov. 30. In the " Massachusetts Gazette," Nov. 80. 

New York. Dec. 17. In the " Post Boy," Dec. 30. 

2 Colden, Letter, Sept. 23, 1765. 


Jersey, a son of the philosopher, but an inveterate Tory, 
pronounced it irregular and unconstitutional ; and Governor 
Wright, of Georgia, and Fauquier, of Virginia, succeeded in 
preventing the assemblies of these colonies from sending 
delegates. Their sympathizers in the congress, Ruggles 
and Ogden, urged that each colony ought to act separately, 
and declined to unite with the other delegates in signing 
the memorials. In a similar spirit, the Lords of Trade 
presented to the king the proceedings of Massachusetts, 
on the occasion of the reception of the Declaratory Resolves, 
and in calling the congress, without a sanction from the 
crown, as of dangerous tendency. 1 These facts evince 
the same jealousy of any action originating outside of official 
circles, aiming at a union of the colonies, that was seen in 
the case of the New-England confederacy, and in subsequent 
propositions, however innocent, for joint effort. This school 
aimed to keep America weak, by fostering the isolation of 
the colonies, or it aimed at such a unity by a consolida- 
tion of popular functions as would repress the republican 
element. It held that the government in England had un- 
limited power over the colonies, and that they ought not 
even to unite in a petition without its permission. 

The Whigs held that the colonies, though subordinate, 
were under a limited government ; that they had an un- 
doubted right to join in petitions ; and that union was the 
most efficient means to obtain a redress of grievances. 
Hence the attempt to unite the merchants, by committees of 
correspondence, in protests against the injustice of the acts 
of Trade ; the proposition for joint action in the earliest or- 
ganized movement in opposition to the contemplated Stamp 
Act ; the cordial reception of the Massachusetts proposal for 
a congress ; the associations of the Sons of Liberty, pledging 
to each other their lives in the support of their rights ; and 
the inspiring cry for " A continental union." It is not without 
significance that at that time the term " America " was used 

1 Parliamentary History, xvi. 122. The representation is dated Oct. 1, 1765. 


as applied to a people, and the term " country " as applied 
to America. 1 The inspiration of the thought which those 
terms expressed is seen in the language in which Christopher 
Gadsden urged his countrymen to lift above all merely pro- 
vincial names the name of American. Thus union had 
become a sentiment, a moral power, and began to influence 
the course of events. A similar sentiment could not be 
roused in Greece in its palmiest days. In the course of the 
great history of that people, at times, a purpose at once 
common, innocent, and useful, spontaneously brought to- 
gether fragments of that disunited race ; but it was not 
powerful enough to counteract that bent towards a petty 
and isolated autonomy which ultimately made slaves of them 
all. 5 This ancient lesson was strongly and continuously 
enforced on the colonists. The stern words in which Gads- 
den connected a refusal to unite with infamy, show the 
strength of the conviction of the popular leaders respecting 
union. In many ways, the public mind, especially through 
the press, grew familiar with the idea that the colonies were 
linked together in a common destiny. 

I have alluded but cursorily to the passive resistance to 
the new policy by the non-importation agreement, and by 
fostering domestic manufactures, when the watchword was 
Frugality and Industry. Then Americans asserted, practi- 
cally, the right of labor to choose its fields and enjoy its 
fruits ; when even liberal thinkers advocated the most 

1 The following, from the " Massachusetts Gazette," Oct. 17, 1765, will show the 
way in which America as a country was referred to : 

" Phil. Oct. 3. We hear the stamp paper for this province is arrived in Capt. Holland, 
who lies at New Castle under the protection of one of his majesty's sloops of war. It is im- 
possible to conceive of the consternation this melancholly news has diffused through this 
city. Hage, resentment and grief appeared painted in every countenance and the mournful 
language of one and all our inhabitants seems to be farewell, farewell, Liberty. America, 
America, doomed by a premature sentence to slavery ! Was it thy loyalty thy filial obe- 
dience thy exhausted treasures and the rivers of blood shed by thy sons in extending 
the glory of thy arms, provoked thy mother country thus unjustly to involve thee in 
distress, by tearing from thee the darling privileges of thy children? Or was it the perfidy ? 
But 1 cannot proceed, tears of vexation and sorrow stop my pen. my country, my 
country ! " 

2 Grote's Greece, ed. 1862, iv. 24. 



vexatious restrictions on industrial pursuits, and the old 
colonial system was so triumphant, that Chatham declared 
he would not allow a hobnail to be manufactured in Amer- 
ica. Otis averred that " one single act of parliament had 
set people a-thinking, in six months, more than they had 
done in their whole lives before." 1 The thought was, that 
Americans might clothe themselves with their own hands, 
and be independent of a foreign supply. The members of 
the assemblies were urged to set the example. " I have in 
my younger days," wrote Dulany, " seen fine sights, and 
been captivated by their dazzling pomp and glittering splen- 
dor ; but the sight of our representatives, all adorned in 
complete dresses of their own leather and flax and wool, 
manufactured by the art and industry of the inhabitants 
of America, would excite not the gaze of admiration, the 
flutter of an agitated imagination, or the momentary amuse- 
ment of a transient scene ; but a calm, solid, heart-felt 
delight." 2 The daughters of America entered into this 
movement with a spirit that gave inspiration to the cause, 
a forerunner of the beautiful and noble service which, 
in the late civil war, they rendered not merely to their 
country, but to our common humanity. The details of this 
movement are voluminous. It was inculcated in prose and 
verse, as patriotism to use domestic manufactures, and thus 
" save a sinking land." 3 

1 Rights of the British Colonies, 54. 

2 " Considerations on the Propriety of imposing Taxes on the "British Colonies, 
for the purpose of raising a Revenue, by Act of Parliament. North America." 
The preface is dated Virginia. It was published Oct. 14, 1765. (McMahon's Mary- 
land, 349.) It was commended in the journals as a masterly performance, by one 
of the most celebrated civilians on the Continent, who was educated in England, 
and bred at the Temple. It was by Daniel Dulany, of Maryland. 

8 Songs were early used to rouse the people to action. The " Massachusetts 
Gazette" of Oct. 31, 1765, has a song entitled "Advice from the Country," which 
was copied into the " Gentleman's Magazine " for December, as a " Song sung at 
Boston, in New England." One of the stanzas runs: 

" With us of the woods 

Lay aside your fine goods, 
Contentment depends not on clothes ; 


In this varied action the riotous element of which was 
deplored by the sagacious patriots there was revealed a 
sentiment in favor of union, which made the individuals of 
different colonies alive to each other's welfare. Its germs 

We hear, smell and see, 
Taste and feel with high glee, 
And in winter have huts for repose." 

The " Boston Evening Post " of Feb. 10, 1766, has a song entitled " America In- 
structing her Children; composed with the design of inspiring Sentiments of 
Frugality and Industry." The following is the beginning and ending: 

" Whilst raging winter ruled the year, 

the earth lay hid in snow : 
Deep in a cypress grove I heard 

the voice of tuneful woe. 
Led by the sound, I pierced the gloom 

where stood an ancient Pine ; 
Beneath it sat an heavenly Dame, 

her form was all divine. 
An azure mantle starred with gems, 

loose from her shoulders hung; 
A golden harp shone in her hand, 

whilst thus she played and sung: 
' What baneful power seeks to harm us, 

where peace and solemn silence reigns ! 
Frightful omens all around us; 

I hear the horrid clank of chains. 

Awake my sons and look arourfd you, 

rise up and save a sinking state ; 
'Tis Luxury, false Syren, wounds you, 

rise soon, or you will be too late. 
With nervous arm strike deep the Whale, 

pluck Codfish tugging at your line ; 
Take the broiled Mackerel by her tail, 

let Fops among Tea- Trinkets shine. 
Let Oxen spread my valleys over, 

drinking at the christel rills ; 
Whilst fleecy FlocknA.0 nibble clover, 

growing on my verdant hills. 
Rise up my Daughters, light your tapers, 

take the Spinning- Wheel in hand, 
Your babes shall prattle how your labors 

helped to save a sinking land.' 

The black North-wester sunk to silence, 

ravished by so sweet a note ; 
The robin dropped his scarlet berry, 

and in concert joined his throat." 


and roots were seen even in the past of the diversity of the 
governments ; in the attachment of each to similar political 
ideas and institutions, and a common determination to main- 
tain them. Each claimed as an inheritance liberties secured 
in the common law as enforced in the declaration of the 
Great Charter and the Bill of Rights, 1 that were beyond the 
domain of king or parliament ; and especially the two lib- 
erties that were assailed, self-taxation, and trial by jury. 
This community of political ideas among the patriots is seen 
in the resolves of the village, of the colpny, and of the 
congress. They asserted no more, no less, than the early 
colonists claimed under the two Charles's and James II. 
But the fathers were but few in number, and could only 
put forth their claims; their descendants, under George III., 
had become numerous, were united, felt strong, and they 
insisted on a recognition of their rights. This was done, 
however, in a spirit of loyalty to the British constitution. 
It was the belief and the hope of the popular leaders, that 
their unanswerable reasoning and their united attitude 
would procure a change of administration, and an aban- 
donment of an odious policy ; and that this would u per- 
petuate the sovereignty of the British Constitution and the 
filial dependence of all the colonies." 2 

The Americans believed their hopes were about to be 
realized, when the intelligence spread that the ministry 
had been changed, and the Rockingham Cabinet was in 
power. It was followed by the still more inspiring news 
that parliament had repealed the Stamp Act, which the 
king signed on the 18th of March, 1766. There was then 
a burst of joy. In England, William Pitt received an ova- 
tion. The king returned from Westminster to the palace 

1 Dulany, 27. He says, p. 11, of the opinions of court lawyers: " They have all 
declared that to be legal which the minister for the time has deemed to be expe- 
dient." He says that Republican was used as a nick-name, as applied to " the 
British inhabitants of North America; " because it implied that they were enemies 
to the government of England. 

2 Stephen Hopkins closes his pamphlet in these words. 


amid the huzzas of the multitude. Bow bells were set 
a-ringing ; the ships in the Thames displayed their colors ; 
and London streets were illuminated. In America, the 
people overflowed with joy, and they expressed their grati- 
tude in every form that could be devised ; town vying with 
town, and colony with colony, in patriotic demonstrations. 
In both countries there was a general jubilee as for a 
great deliverance. Robertson, the historian, spoke the feel- 
ing of liberal minds in England, when he rejoiced that the 
millions in America would have the chances of running 
the same great career which other free people have held 
before them ; and Samuel Adams expressed the views of his 
countrymen when he said that they blessed their sovereign, 
revered the wisdom and goodness of the British parliament, 
and felt themselves happy. 

This, however, was not the interpretation which the Tories 
put upon the rejoicing in America. They represented it as 
exultation for a triumph over the sovereignty. A British 
official promptly said the sequel would be, " Addresses of 
thanks, and measures of rebellion." l This stupid judg- 
ment was in keeping with the charge, reiterated by the 
Tories during this period of opposition to the Stamp Act, 
that the colonies aimed at independence. This charge was 
pronounced by the colonists a stale pretence, entirely sense- 
less and ridiculous, and almost beneath a serious refutation. 2 
" We utterly deny," they said, "that such an intention ever 
entered into our hearts." 3 This denial is found in private 
letters, in the press, and in State papers. Samuel Adams, 
in an emphatic disclaimer, appealed to the affection enter- 
tained by the Americans for the mother country ; 4 and 
James Otis averred " that British America would never 
prove undutiful till driven to it as the last, fatal resort 

1 William Knox, on the morning after the vote passed, said this to Mr. Grenville* 
Extra Official Papers, 2, 26. 

2 Boston Evening Post, March 25, 1765. 
8 Boston Post Boy, July 15, 1765. 

* Letter, Nov. 13, 1765. Welle's Life of Adams, i. 101. 


against ministerial oppression, which will make the wisest 
mad and the weakest strong." l 

The patriots, however, were emphatic in declaring that 
America would use her strength to preserve her liberties ; 
the facts already stated evincing the determination of the 
people, if need be, to take the field. Kichard Henry Lee. in 
a remarkable letter, written as in a prophetic spirit, said, 
" The ways of Heaven are inscrutable ; and frequently 
the most unlooked-for events have arisen from seemingly the 
most inadequate causes. Possibly this step of the mother 
country, though intended to oppress and keep us low, in 
order to secure our dependence, may be subversive of this 
end." 2 John Adams saw in the intention in the ministry 
an entire subversion of the whole system of the fathers of 
America, and the introduction of the inequalities of feudal- 
ism ; and he held that to submit to slavery would be a 
sacrilegious breach of trust, as offensive in the sight of 
God as it would be derogatory to the honor, the interest, or 
the happiness of the people. 3 Richard Bland appealed to the 
laws of nature and the rights of mankind, and urged the 

1 Otis's Rights of the Colonies, 51. It was said, that the colonists, by fraud or 
force, would claim to be an independent legislature. Otis, in denying this, sa} r s : 
" This, I think, would be revolting with a vengeance. What higher revolt can 
there be than for a province to assume the right of an independent legislature or 

2 Letter, May 31, 1764. 

8 Boston Gazette, Oct. 21, 1765. This journal printed, Aug. 12, a communica- 
tion without a title or a signature; and continuations of it in the issues of Aug. 19, 
Sept. 30, and Oct. 21. This paper was written by John Adams. It was copied 
into the " London Chronicle," and in 1768 printed by Almon, in a volume entitled 
"The True Sentiments of America," where it is termed " A Dissertation on the 
Canon and Feudal Law." It was subsequently reprinted under this title. See 
John Adams's Works, iii. 447. The following is an extract from the last number: 

" Let us presume, what is in fact true, that the spirit of liberty is as ardent as ever among 
the body of the nation, though a few individuals may be corrupted. Let us take it for 
granted, that the same great spirit which once gave Caesar so warm a reception ; which 
denounced hostilities against John till Magna Charta was signed; which severed the head 
of Charles the First from his body, and drove James the Second from his kingdom ; the 
same great spirit (may Heaven preserve it till the earth shall be no more) which first seated 
the great grandfather of his present most gracious majesty on the throne of Britain, 
is still alive and active and warm in England; and that the same spirit in America, 
instead of provoking the inhabitants of that country, will endear us to them for ever, and 
eecure their good will." 


colonies to unite in a representation of their common griev- 
ances ; and, as a part of the answer to the question " what 
should be done if justice shall be denied," said that injury 
and violence would render the colonies an alien, and pointed 
to the Helvetic Confederacy and the States of the United 
Netherlands as glorious examples of what " a petty people 
in comparison " could do when acting together in the cause 
of liberty. 1 Choiseul, Minister of the Marine of France, 
foresaw the struggle for independence, and in a memorial 
urged his sovereign to be prepared for the crisis. 2 

Meantime the prosperity and progress of the colonies con- 
tinued to elicit foreshadowings of the future of America. 
Ezra Stiles, one of the gifted Americans of his age, antici- 
pated the independence of his country, and said that there 
would be a provincial confederacy formed on free suifrage, 
which in time would grow into an imperial dominion ; 3 
Watson, Vicar of Yorkshire, in a sermon on American 
colleges, adopting the thought that all arts and sciences 
were travelling westward, speculated on what America would 
be as a powerful and independent state, the school of Chris- 
tian knowledge and of liberal science. 4 James Otis wrote 

1 Richard Bland, of Virginia, printed, early in 1766, a pamphlet, entitled "An 
Enquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies: intended as an answer to 'The 
Regulations lately made concerning the Colonies, and the taxes upon them con- 
sidered.' In a Letter addressed to the Author of that Pamphlet." The writer 
of the pamphlet held " that the colonies should be prohibited from uniting in a 
representation of their general grievances " to the common sovereign. Bland re- 
plied as follows: 

' Divide, et impera is your maxim in colony administration, lest ' an alliance 
should be formed dangerous to the mother country.' Ungenerous insinuation! 
detestable thought ! abhorrent to every native of the colonies ! who by an uniformity 
of conduct have ever demonstrated the deepest loyalty to their king as the father 
of his people, and an unshaken attachment to the interest of Great Britain. But 
you must entertain a most despicable opinion of the understandings of the colonists, 
to imngine that they will allow divisions to be fomented between them about incon- 
siderable things, when the closest union becomes necessary to maintain, in a consti- 
tutional way, their dearest interest." 

2 Bancroft, v. 361. 

8 1760. Sermon on the Capture of Montreal, cited in " Duj^ckink's Cyclopedia," 
i. 159. 

4 1763. The sermon was printed in England in 1763. Extracts were copied 
into the " Gentleman's Magazine " for May, 1783. 


that the world was on the eve of the highest scene of earthly 
power and grandeur that has ever been displayed. 1 It was 
circulated in the press of England and of America, that the 
inhabitants of the colonies, at the least computation, num- 
bered two millions ; that in twenty-five years they would 
grow to four ; in fifty years, to eight ; in seventy-five years, to 
sixteen ; and in a hundred years, to thirty-two millions, a 
striking prospect of increasing population : and it was said, 
" Little doubt can be entertained, that America will in time 
be the greatest and most prosperous empire that perhaps 
the world has ever seen." 2 

1 Rights of the British Colonies. 

2 A piece from the " London Gazetteer," Nov. 1, 1765, copied into the " Boston 
Evening Post," Feb. 10, 1766. 



1766 TO 1770. 

THE sentiment of union, evoked by the attempt to carry out 
so much of the new policy as was developed in the Stamp 
Act, had a solid basis in the traditional attachment of the 
people of each colony to similar political ideas. The next 
embodiment of this policy in the Townshend Revenue Acts, 
designed to establish the principle that parliament had ab- 
solute power over the colonies in all cases whatsoever, was 
met by a constitutional opposition on the basis of social 
order, 'and occasioned a further development of the senti- 
ment of union by inter-colonial correspondence ; while an 
arbitrary royal order, designed to check a growing com- 
munion of the colonies, elicited action by thirteen assem- 
blies' asserting rights inherent in local self-government, and 
served to fix public opinion as a power in the American 
political world. 

Thoughtful minds questioned whether the repeal of the 
Stamp Act, " on European rather than American reasons," l 
was worthy of the rejoicings that burst spontaneously, in 
full chorus, from the heart of a grateful people. The Re- 
peal was accompanied by the famous Declaratory Act, t that 
parliament had the right to bind the colonies in all cases 
whatsoever ; and even its illustrious champion, William Pitt, 
asserted for parliament this right of governing, as emphati- 

i Boston Gazette, May 5, 1766. 


cally as he denied the right to tax. 1 It was said, however, 
that this act was but laying down an abstraction. Against 
it were the declarations of the thirteen colonies, that the 
people had inherent rights, and that the powers of the king 
and the parliament were limited by the Constitution. Some 
urged, that the new declaration might be, and ought to be, 
met by a fresh assertion, by each colony, of what it regarded 
as its rights. 2 But the appeals for a continuation of agita- 
tion against an abstraction proved of little account. The 
Sons of Liberty dissolved their association, and, in a great 
measure, ceased their operations. 3 The masses are moved 
more by feeling than by reasoning, and the paramount feel- 
ing was that of gratitude. It was said that the Repeal 
hushed into silence every clamor, and composed every wave 
of popular disorder into a smooth and peaceful calm. The 
colonies cheerfully and gratefully acknowledged their de- 
pendence on the crown of Great Britain. 4 

The Repeal was regarded by the king as a fatal compli- 

1 Pitt, in the debate in which he astonished the House with the declaration, " I 
rejoice that America has resisted," said, " It is my opinion that this kingdom has no 
right to lay a tax upon the colonies; at the same time I assert the authority of this 
kingdom over the colonies to be sovereign and supreme, in every circumstance of 

government and legislation whatever Taxation is no part of the governing 

or legislative power. Taxes are a voluntary gift and grunt of the commons alone." 
Report in Massachusetts Gazette, May 8, 1766. 

2 The " Boston Post Boy " of Aug. 11, 1766, copied an elaborate paper, dated 
" Virginia, 20th of May, 1766," and signed "A British American," which covers 
the whole ground of the Repeal and the Declaratory Act. It urged that the latter 
should be expunged from the journals of parliament. It says, " We really consider 
ourselves as the same people with the inhabitants of Great Britain, tuid feel the 
same sentiments of joy or sorrow, on every acquisition or loss of our mother coun- 
try, as if we still inhabited her happy island. . . . Will it be beneath the dignity 
of that august body (parliament) to expunge from their journals an entry fraught 
with such mischievous consequences?" "Algernon Sidney," in the "Boston Ga- 
zette," Aug. 18, 1766, in arraigning the Declaratory Act, says, " Let every House of 
assembly on the Continent assert those rights it is not in their power to alienate." 

3 Leake's Life of Lamb, 36. 

4 Diary of John Adams. Works, ii. 203. " There never was a time, since the 
first European set forth on this continent, wherein the colonies, from one end to 
the other, more cheerfully and affectionately acknowledged their dependence on the 
crown of Great Britain. Never were a people more in love with their king and the 
Constitution by which he has solemnly engaged to govern them." Boston Even- 
ing Post, Sept. 14, 1767. 


ance. 1 It proved only a pause in the attempt to carry out 
the new policy. Soon after, to the astonishment and sorrow 
of the liberal world, William Pitt accepted a peerage, and 
entered the House of Lords ; when Charles Townshend 
became the leader of the House of Commons. He had won- 
derful ability, and was fully informed on American affairs ; 
but was arrogant and imperious, and prized the smiles of 
the sovereign more than the friendship of the Earl of Chat- 
ham. He continued to ftivor the policy of remodelling 
the local governments, which he urged when a member 
of the Board of Trade. On the 3d of June, 1766, he spoke 
from the ministerial benches the following remarkable 
words : " It has long been my opinion that America should 
be regulated and deprived of its militating and contradic- 
tory charters, and its royal governors, judges, and attorneys 
be rendered independent of the people. I therefore expect 
that the present administration will, in the recess of par- 
liament, take all necessary previous steps for compassing 
so desirable an event." After adducing the madness and 
distractions of America as his justification, he said, " If I 
should differ in judgment from the present administration 
on this point, I now declare that I must withdraw ... I 
hope and expect otherwise, trusting that I shall be an in- 
strument among them of preparing a new system." 2 The 
journals contained rumors that new measures were proposed 
for America, and among them were these, that the gover- 
nors had strict orders to prevent the assembling of another 
Congress ; that the local governments would be remodelled ; 
and that Great Britain would assert its dignity and sove- 
reignty. Townshend became the master spirit of the cabinet 
that succeeded the Buckingham ministry. His speeches in 
support of violent methods, as one of his sympathizers ex- 
pressed it, and urging " a different police founded on and 
supported by force and vigor," 3 had a wide circulation. He 

1 Lord Mahon's Hist. England, vi., App. xlix. 

2 Bancroft has a manuscript report of this speech, vi. 10. 
Moffat's Letter, in u Boston Post Boy," Oct. 20, 1766. 


urged the expediency of a revenue from America, and of 
using an army to collect it, saying that he voted to repeal 
the Stamp Act, not because it was not a good measure, but 
because Repeal was at that time expedient. He repeated 
the sentence, that the galleries might hear it ; remarking, 
" After that, I do not expect to have any statue erected in 
America." : 

These reports proved the forerunners of the Townshend 
Revenue Acts, the chief of which was introduced into par- 
liament the 13th of May, 1767, received the royal assent 
the 29th of June, and was to go into effect on the 20th of 
November. These acts, in brief, imposed duties on glass, 
paper, painters' colors, and tea ; established a board of cus- 
toms at Boston to collect the revenue throughout America ; 
and legalized writs of assistance. The preamble of the act 
imposing duties stated that they were laid for raising a rev- 
enue to provide for the support of civil government in the 
provinces, and for their general defence. It was designed 
that the governors, judges, and attorneys should be rendered 
independent of the local assemblies. The extent to which 
parliament interfered with these bodies was seen in the law 
suspending the New- York assembly from the exercise of 
the powers of legislation until it should comply with the act 
requiring it to provide quarters for British troops. 

The new duties were imposed not on commercial grounds, 
but for political reasons ; not to regulate trade, but for 
revenue and to assert British sovereignty. The scheme was 
thoroughly dissected by the press. Its aggression on the 
ancient self-government was pointed out. The line between 
external and internal taxation between the spheres of the 
colonial or local and the imperial was not clearly defined ; 

i The " Boston Evening Post " of May 4, 1767, has a letter dated London, Feb. 14, 
1767, which says, " Taxing the colonies, in some shape or other, begins to be talked 
of." Another letter, Feb. 18, says, that the action of the New-York assembly, declin- 
ing to comply with the act of parliament for quartering troops, caused it to be " gen- 
erally said they are in a state of rebellion, and are endeavoring to throw off their 
dependence." The action of the Massachusetts assembly also gave great offence. 
A letter on this action was printed in the " Boston Post Boy," March 2, 1767. 


yet it was the theory of the Whigs, that each colony, as 
an integral part of the nation, had a general assembly, 
which, though subordinate, was a free, deliberative body ; 
and, while parliament had the right to make the laws for 
England, these assemblies, with the council, had the right 
to make the laws bearing exclusively on America ; and that 
the king was the common executive, whose rightful preroga- 
tive was in force in each colony as it was in England. 1 This 
law-making power regulated " the internal police ; " which 
meant, that it provided for the elective franchise, represen- 
tation, trial by jury, the habeas corpus, the concerns of 
order, education, and religion. This power was the custo- 
dian of the municipalities ; and they, in the fine words of 
Mirabeau, " are the basis of the social state, the safety 
of every day, the security of every fireside, the only pos- 
sible way of interesting the entire people in the government, 
and of securing all rights." 2 Now the new scheme was 
regarded by Americans as more dangerous to their liberties 
than the Stamp Act, because it was an aggression on the 
old usages, grown into a right, of fashioning the " internal 
police." A British official, who knew America by personal 

1 Hutchinson, in a letter dated March 27, 1768, says, " The authority of parlia- 
ment to make laws of any nature whatsoever in the colonies is denied with the 
same freedom their authority to tax the colonies has been for two or three years 
past. This is a new doctrine ; but it spreads every day, and bids fair to be as 
generally received as the other." In a letter dated Aug. 27, 1772, he says, " Before 
America is settled in peace, it would be necessary to go to the bottom of all the 
disorder, ... the opinion that every colon}- has a legislature within itself, the acts 
and doings of which are not to be controlled by parliament, and that no legislative 
power ought to be exercised over the colonies except by their legislatures." He 
termed this " the doctrine of independence of parliament." He said (Letter, Aug. 
27, 1772), " For assemblies or bodies of men who shall deny the authority of parlia- 
ment, may not all their subsequent proceedings be declared to be ipso facto null 
and void, and every member who shall continue to act in such assembly be subject to 
penalties and incapacities." This was a wanton misrepresentation of the position of 
the Whigs. The Massachusetts House of Representatives say, in a letter to the Mar- 
quis of Rockingham, in reference to parliament, " My Lord, the superintending power 
of that high court over all his majesty's subjects in the empire, and in all cases 
that can consist with the fundamental rules of the Constitution, was never ques- 
tioned in this province, nor, as the House conceives, in any other." The patriots 
claimed only the right of self-taxation, and to make the local law. 

2 Cited by Thierry, in Hist. Essays. Phil. ed. 84. 


observation, described the situation, 'politically, as he re- 
marked, that the operation of the Stamp Act, on colonial 
ideas, " would have been by sap ; " but the Townshend 
scheme " was attacking them by storm every day." l 

The father of the new acts, Charles Townshend, died 
before they went into effect ; and their execution devolved 
on Lord North, appointed chancellor of the exchequer. This 
character, so famous in American story, was thirty-five years 
of age ; but this was not the time of his full entrance on the 
stage. The administration was living on the great name of 
the Earl of Chatham. 2 The business of the colonies had 
become so large, that the office of Secretary of State for them 
was created, which was filled by Lord Hillsborough. He 
was bland, and full of fair professions, but constantly aimed 
to strengthen the prerogative. He was the channel of com- 
munication with the colonies. 

It was then said that " American liberty must be entirely 
of American fabric." 3 A new movement, as it was termed, 
began. The popular leaders enjoined the people to avoid 
mobs, confusions, tumults, the terrible spirit of disorder 
that was a part of the action against the Stamp Act, and which 
was like the European popular action, spasmodic, danger- 
ous, and ruinous. This advice was given, in line upon line, 
in the press. 4 On the day the new acts went into effect, there 
was posted under" Liberty Tree," in Boston, a paper calling 
on the " Sons of Liberty " to rise and fight for their rights, 
and saying that they would be joined by legions. This 
incident drew from James Otis, the moderator of a meeting 
held in the town on that day, a spirited denunciation of mobs. 
He said, that, " were the burdens of the people ever so heavy, 
or their grievances ever so great, no possible circumstances, 

1 Knox's Extra-Official Papers, ii. 26. 

2 The king said this in a letter to the Earl of Chatham, dated Jan. 23, 1768. He 
was then in strict seclusion. 

8 Arthur Lee, in "Life of R. H. Lee," i. 62. The letter is dated London, 1767; 
but, as the " Farmer's Letters " are referred to, it should be 1768. 
* Boston Gazette, Nov. 9 and 14, 1767. 


though ever so oppressive, could be supposed sufficient 
to justify private tumults and disorders, either to their con- 
sciences before God, or legally before men ; that their fore- 
fathers, in the beginning of the reign of Charles I., for 
fifteen years together, were continually offering up prayers 
to their God, and petitions to their king for redress of griev- 
ances, before they would betake themselves to any forcible 
measures ; that to insult and tear each other in pieces was 
to act like madmen ; " l This speech was printed in the 
newspapers, and was heartily indorsed. " Our cause," it 
was said, " is a cause of the highest dignity : it is nothing 
less than to maintain the liberty with which Heaven itself 
has made us free. I hope it will not be disgraced in any 
colony by a single rash step. We have constitutional meth- 
ods of seeking redress, and they are the best methods." 2 
The Whigs, with these views, entered upon the work of 
" defending the liberties of their common country." 3 Aim- 
ing to avoid any thing like insurrection, and repelling the 
idea of revolution, they unfurled their banner under the 
noble aegis of law. They based their action on social order. 
They hoped to build up their cause on the foundation of an 
intelligent public opinion. This was a new and an Ameri- 
can method of political agitation. 

The Whigs, in this spirit, aimed at concert of action. 
They did not fail to profit by such union as was reached 
in the Stamp Act, and they sought opportunities to 
cement and perpetuate it. When the air was full of re- 
joicing on account of the repeal, a learned divine of 
Boston, Jonathan Mayhew, in a note addressed to James 
Otis, proposed that the Massachusetts assembly should send 
congratulatory letters to the other assemblies on the favor- 

1 Boston Evening Post, Nov. 23, 1767. The entire report of this speech is in 
" Life and Times of Warren," 38. 

2 Letter written by John Dickenson, and addressed to Otis, dated Dec. 7, 1767. 
Extracts were printed in the " Boston Gazette," Jan. 25, 1768. The entire letter is 
in "Warren's History of the American War," i. 413. 

8 Boston Gazette, Jan 25, 1768, the beginning of Dickenson's Letter. 


able aspect of things, expressing warm friendship, and a 
desire to cultivate union among them Ipy all practical meth- 
ods ; remarking, that the communion of colonies, like the 
communion of churches, might be of great use, and that 
on some future occasion union might be the only means of 
perpetuating their liberties. 1 The benefit of keeping up a 
friendly correspondence among the patriots was urged in 
public meetings and in the press. 2 The appeals of the pop- 
ular leaders have an elevation of sentiment so common and 
so continuous, as to constitute a feature of the revolutionary 
struggle. Thus " The Farmer's Letters," addressed to " The 
American People," imbued with a sentiment of union 
say, " You are assigned by Divine Providence, in the 
appointed order of things, the protector of unborn ages, 
whose fate depends on your virtue." 3 

The earliest movement, in reference to the new scheme, 
was a renewal of the non-importation agreement. At a town 
meeting held at Boston, Oct. 28, 1767, in which James Otis 
presided, statements were read to the effect, that one town, 
the past year, 'made thirty thousand yards of cloth ; that 
Lynn turned out forty thousand pairs of women's shoes ; 
that a circle of agreeable ladies had agreed to lay aside 

1 This letter is dated " Lord's Daj T Morning, June 8, 1766:" and commences, 
" Sir, To a good man all time is holy enough, and none too holy to do good or to 
think upon it." It was printed by Mrs. Warren, in her " History of American War," 

1. 416. 

2 " With respect to North America in general, it is our advice and instruction 
that you keep up a constant and friendly intercourse with the other English govern- 
ments on the continent; that you conciliate divisions and differences, if any be noAv 
subsisting, or should hereafter arise; ever preferring their friendship and confidence 
to the demands of rigorous justice without them." Boston Instructions to the Rep- 
resentatives in Massachusetts Gazette, May 29, 1766. 

8 These letters, by John Dickenson, appeared first in the " Pennsylvania Chronicle 
and Universal Advertiser," printed in Philadelphia. Number one was printed Dec. 

2, 1767; number twelve, Feb. 15, 1768. They were copied into other journals, and 
widely circulated in every colony. They were printed also in pamphlet form in 
America and in London. Letters of thanks were sent to their author. Thus the 
town of Lebanon, Conn., April 11, 1768, congratulated him as one born for the most 
noble and exalted purpose, and as having erected a monument that would transmit 
a grateful remembrance of the " Farmer " to the latest posterity. Pennsylvania 
Chronicle, May 9, 1768. 


the use of ribbons: and a subscription was started to pro- 
mote economy, industry, and manufactures. The proceed- 
ings, under the heading " Save your money, and you save 
your country," were printed in the journals, 1 and made 
a great noise in England. 

It was circulated in the newspapers, that, whenever 
" the cause of American freedom was to be vindicated," 
the province of Massachusetts Bay, " as it had hitherto 
done, must first kindle the sacred flame that must illumin- 
ate and warm the continent." 2 Its legislature came to- 
gether in its second session, Dec. 30, 1767, in the Town 
House, or State House, 3 as it was then sometimes termed, 
still standing at the head of State Street, then King Street. 
Several members of the Council and many of the House 
" appeared completely clothed in the manufacture of thS 
country." 4 Thomas Gushing, of Boston, a merchant of 
liberal culture, and a patriot always in favor of a moderate 
course, was the speaker ; and Samuel Adams, a poor man, 
a universally good character, and of rising influence as a 
popular leader, was the clerk. Among the members were 
Otis, whose brilliant intellect was entering its cloud ; and 1 

1 The proceedings were printed in the " Boston Gazette," Nov. 2, and are 
copied into the " Pennsylvania Chronicle", Nov. 11. They are in the " Gentleman's 
Magazine" for December, 1767, and elicited (p. 620) a violent piece, calling on 
parliament to declare the combination illegal. It is pronounced a ' daring attack 
on our commerce;" and it is said, "The enterprises of the Americans are now 
carried to such a point, that every moment we lose serves only to accelerate our 
perdition." This piece was copied by the American newspapers. The excitement 
which the Boston Resolutions occasioned, elicited from Franklin the paper entitled 
"Causes of the American Discontents" (see works of Franklin by Sparks, iv. 242), 
which, had the motto " The waves never rise but when the winds blow." This was 
printed in the " London Chronicle " of Jan. 7, 1768, in the " Pennsylvania Chronicle " 
of April 25, and as a postscript to the collection of papers entitled " The True Sen- 
timents of America." 

2 Boston Gazette, Jan. 25, 1768. 

3 The papers of some of the colonies are dated from " The State House." The 
petition of Delaware, Sept. 28, 1768, is so dated. 

4 Bo-ton Gazette, Jan. 11, 1768. The issue of the 4th says, that the senior class 
at the University in Cambridge had '' unanimously agreed to take their decrees, 
next Commencement, dressed altogether in the manufactures of this country, a 
resolution which reflects the highest honor on that seat of learning." 



John Hancock, a generous and steady patriot, whose per- 
sonal services and great wealth were freely given to the 
cause. James Warren, of large revolutionary fame, repre- 
sented the town of Plymouth ; and Joseph Hawley, of rare 
singleness of purpose and integrity, was sent from North- 
ampton, and was the politician of the largest influence from 
the western part of the province. The lisfc of members 
shows many who are held in grateful remembrance. 

On opening the session, Governor Bernard summoned the 
members of the House to the council chamber, but in his 
address to them, did not refer to the new acts. They were, 
however, read in the House, and referred to a committee on 
the state of the province. 1 They reported an elaborate letter 
written by Samuel Adams, to be sent to the agent of the 
colony in London, and intended for the ministers. During 
the discussion of it, running through several days, it was 
read eight times, and, having been amended, was adopted as 
embodying the sentiments of the House. This masterly pre- 
sentation of the American question is too long to admit of an 
abstract. It reproduced the old argument respecting taxa- 
tion. It claimed for the colonial assemblies, as the guardians 
of the rights and liberties of the people, the free exercise of 
powers of legislation within their limits as essential to secure 
to His Majesty's subjects in America the benefits of the Con- 
stitution. It urged that, without this freedom, a legisla- 
tive body was incomprehensible, that there could be no 
essential difference between a legislature restricted and 
none at all ; and that it would be a strange political phe- 
nomenon, should all laws, both of police and revenue, be 
made by a legislature at such a distance that the local cir- 
cumstances of the governed could not be known by it. The 
letter claimed that the colonists were equally entitled with 

1 On the first day of the session, Dec. 30, 1767, ordered, that Mr. Speaker, Col. 
Otis, Mr. Adams, Major Hawley, Mr. Otis, Mr. Hancock, Capt. Sheaffe, Col. Bowers, 
and Mr. Dexter, be a committee to take under consideration the state of the province 
and report. Journal. 


all British subjects to the fundamental rules of the British 
Constitution as their grand security, and that these bounded 
and circumscribed the supreme legislature. Tested by 
these rules, the new acts were held to be unconstitutional. 
In asking for their repeal, the House disclaimed the most 
distant thought of independence. 

The same committee reported letters to several noblemen 
in England, and a petition to the king, prepared by Samuel 
Adams. The most celebrated of these papers, the petition, 
was expressed in simple and beautiful terms. It contained 
the warmest sentiments of loyalty, duty, and affection ; 
glanced at the origin and growth of the colony ; spoke of 
the happiness of a people blessed with the rights of English- 
men ; and, recognizing the supreme legislative power in all 
cases that could consist with the fundamental rights of 
nature and the Constitution, it averred that the power 
claimed for parliament to raise a revenue when it was 
utterly impracticable for the colonists to be represented in 
it, would leave them only the name of free subjects. 1 

It was next proposed, in the spirit of the prevailing sen- 
timent of union, to inform the other assemblies of these 
measures ; and the House voted, Jan. 22, to assign a time 
to consider the expediency of writing to the* assemblies of 
the other colonies with respect to the importance of join- 
ing in petitioning his majesty. This was earnestly debated, 
and the proposition was at first rejected, on the ground that 
this would be equivalent to the call of a congress. But the 

1 The papers adopted by the House soon appeared in the newspapers. The 
celebrated letter addressed to Dennis De Berdt, dated Jan. 12, 1768, is in the " Boston 
Gazette" of April 4, and " Pennsylvania Chronicle" of April 18; and it was printed 
in London by Thomas Hollis, in a volume under the title of" The True Sentiments of 
America." See Wells's " Life of Adams," i. 172, on the authorship of it. The letter 
to the Earl of Shelburne, dated Jan. 15, is in the Boston papers of March 21 ; as is 
also the petition to the king, dated Jan. 20. The letter to the Marquis of Rocking- 
ham, dated Jan. 22, is in the " Boston Gazette " of March 28. The letter to the Earl 
of Cainden, dated Jan. 29, is in the " Massachusetts Gazette" of April 4. The letter 
to the Earl of Chatham is in the " Boston Gazette " of April 7. The letter to Henry 
Seymour Conway, dated Feb. 13, is in the " Boston Post Boy " of March 28. The 
letter to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury is in the " Boston Post Boy," 
April 4. 


friends of the measure and none were more indefatigable 
than Samuel Adams urged that it was no more than exer- 
cising the right of correspondence. At length the vote was 
reconsidered, and a committee was appointed to prepare a 
communication to be sent to the other colonies. In a week, 
Feb. 11, they reported a letter, drawn up by Samuel Adams, 
which was adopted. The speaker was directed to sign it, 
and send it to the several assemblies on the continent. 

This Circular Letter states that the House had taken into 
serious consideration the several acts of parliament and 
their consequences ; and, in the view that all possible care 
should be taken that the several assemblies should har- 
monize with each other, it freely communicated their mind 
to their sister colonies, on a common concern, in the same 
manner as they would be glad to receive in return the sen- 
timents of any similar assembly. Then the positions that 
had been taken, in the papers which had been adopted, were 
tersely recapitulated. The idea was disclaimed of being fac- 
tious, disloyal, or having any desire of independence ; and 
confidence was expressed that the other assemblies would be 
too generous to ascribe the letter to an ambition to dictate. 
The House said that they would consider it kind in them to 
point out any thing further which might be thought neces- 
sary, and that they acted in the belief that the united and 
dutiful applications of distressed Americans to the king, 
" their common head and father," would meet with his royal 
acceptance. The authors of this letter regarded it inno- 
cent, prudent, calculated to quiet the public mind, and to 
procure a reversal of an obnoxious policy. It was calm 
in its tone, imbued with a spirit of loyalty, respectful to 
sister colonies, and true to American ideas. 1 

1 The spirit in which the speaker signed this letter may be seen in his own words, 
in a letter dated " Boston, July 13, 1768," and printed in the " American Gazette," 
p. 67. The Circular Letter was printed in the "Boston Gazette," March 14, 1768; 
and was reprinted in the Boston papers of June. It was copied by the newspapers in 
the other colonies. It is in the '' Pennsylvania Chronicle " of July 11. 

The "Boston Gazette" of Feb. 15, has an editorial relating the proceedings of 
the House of Representatives in which the Circular Letter is thus referred to: 

" Their committee have reported a Letter . . . communicating in decent terms their 


The House, by a special committee, informed the Gover- 
nor of the adoption of this letter, and stated that a copy of 
it would be laid before him as soon as a draft could be 
made, and copies also of other papers, if he should desire 
them. A few days after, he summoned the members into 
the council chamber, when, on proroguing the House, 
he delivered a speech, in which he sharply censured them 
for their doings, saying there were men to whose being 
everlasting contention was necessary, but that time would 
soon pull the masks off those false patriots who were sacri- 
ficing their country to the gratification of their passions. He 
laid aside this arrogance, as he spoke to the council, whom 
he commended for what he termed their uniform and patri- 
otic conduct. 

The Circular Letter elicited gratifying replies. The New- 
Hampshire assembly, by their speaker, Peter Gilman, grate- 
fully acknowledged the communication, highly applauded 
its sentiments, regarded the union of all the colonies of the 
highest importance, but said that the period they would be 
in session was so short, they could only express the hope 
their successors would pursue the method adopted by Mas- 
sachusetts ; and they prayed the Lord of the universe to 
avert the impending evil, make way for the establishment 
of British liberty, and quiet every colony in an enjoyment of 
all its civil and religious rights. The House of Burgesses 
of Virginia, through their speaker, Peyton Randolph, ap- 
plauded the Massachusetts assembly for its attention to 
American liberty ; gave a summary of the sentiments em- 
bodied in the memorials they had adopted ; characterized 
their local government as one under which the people had 
enjoyed the fruits of their own labor with a serenity liberty 
only could impart ; not only disclaimed any intention of 
aiming at independence, but promised a cheerful acquies- 

sentiments and proceedings, on this common concern ; and to prevent the enemies 
of the colonies misrepresenting this measure, we are informed, the House has ordered 
a copy of the last-mentioned letter to be transmitted to Mr. Berdt, to be by him 
produced as necessity may require." 


cence in the authority of parliament to make laws for pre- 
serving a necessary dependence and for regulating the trade 
of the colonies ; and they not merely petitioned for a redress 
of grievances, but sent a circular to all the assemblies on 
the continent, inviting their concurrence. The New-Jersey 
assembly, by their speaker, Courtland Skinner, recognized 
the candor, spirit, and design of the Massachusetts circular ; 
adopted the mode of action it suggested ; expressed a desire 
to keep up a correspondence, and to unite with the colonies, 
if necessary, in further supplications to His Majesty to re- 
lieve his distressed subjects, and, in their petition to the 
king, disclaimed any intention of denying a subordination 
to parliament, or dependence on the crown ; but earnestly 
averred that the most effectual way to strengthen the con- 
nection was by zealously striving to preserve in perfect vigor 
those sacred rights and liberties under the inspiring sanc- 
tion of which the colony had become populous, flourishing, 
and valuable to Great Britain. The Connecticut assembly, 
by their speaker, Zebulon West, viewed the Circular Letter 
as proceeding from a hearty concern for the just rights, the 
common interest, and welfare of the colonies ; regarded 
union in sentiment and practice as essential to success ; 
was desirous to cultivate the strictest friendship with the 
neighboring colonies, and with none more than Massachu- 
setts ; and was confident that the united and dutiful suppli- 
cations of the king's faithful and distressed subjects in 
America would meet with a kind and gracious reception. 
Three of these replies soon appeared in the newspapers. 1 

At this point in the communion ^ of the colonies, the king 
appeared on the stage, and as a direct consequence of the 

1 The dates of the replies are as follows: New-Hampshire assembly, Feb. 25, 
1768, printed in the "Journals of the House;" Virginia, May 8, in the "Boston 
Post Boy," June 27; New-Jersey, May 9, in the "Post Boy," June 27; Connecticut, 
June 11, in "Post Boy" of June 27. Explanatory letters were received from Alex- 
ander Wylly, speaker of the Georgia assembly, dated June 16; P. Manigault. 
speaker of the South-Carolina assembly, dated July 10; and Metcalfe Bowler, 
speaker of the Rhode-Island assembly, dated Aug. 5. These replies were cordial, 
and contained assurances that were subsequently made good. 


course of the Tories. They represented that the Whigs 
meant to resist by force the execution of the revenue acts : 
in fact, that their real object was independence ; and that 
British troops were required to prevent an insurrection in 
Boston, which might extend through the colonies. Governor 
Bernard of Massachusetts was conspicuous in this bald mis- 
representation. He had the full confidence of Lord Hills- 
borough. He had also a relative at the head of the war 
department, Lord Barrington ; and the correspondence be- 
tween these two friends was voluminous and confidential, 
in which the progress of events in Boston was minutely 
described. Bernard characterized the Circular Letter as 
designed to pave the way for a confederacy, and calculated 
to inflame the continent; and, presented in this light, it 
naturally alarmed the ministers. Lord Hillsborough (April 
15) laid it before the cabinet, where it was pronounced little 
better than an incentive to rebellion. The king, then giving 
unusual attention to American affairs, judged that the exi- 
gency required special measures ; and, without any regard to 
the limitations of law, it was determined that one royal order 
should require the Massachusetts assembly to rescind its 
Circular Letter, and that another order should require the 
other assemblies to treat it with contempt, imposing the 
penalty of dissolution in case of non-compliance with these 
orders. " I think," a British official said, " this measure 
will bring matters to a crisis very speedily ; and if the col- 
onies see this country is in earnest, they will presently make 
their option, and take the part of peaceable subjects in fu- 
ture." l The monarchical office was the most powerful polit- 
ical machine in Europe. In the colonies the king's name was 
a tower of strength ; and hence this entrance of George III. 
into the arena added vastly to the interest and importance 
of the American question. 

Meantime, the people of Massachusetts had elected a new 
assembly, containing most of the members of the last, and 

l Knox, in Grenville Papers, iv. 298. 


nearly all the popular leaders. It convened when events 
draftings toward revolution were creating intense excite- 
ment in this colony, and attracting more and more the atten- 
tion of the other colonies. A British naval force was moored 
in Boston Harbor. It was the common report that an army 
was to be stationed in this town to overawe the citizens and 
execute the odious policy. The seizure of Americans by 
a press-gang from the ships, and of the sloop " Liberty," 
owned by Hancock, for a violation of the revenue laws, bred 
a riot, which occasioned one of those public meetings 1 in 
the spirit of fidelity to the cause of liberty, and yet under 
the law, which henceforward characterized the revolutionary 
history of Boston and of Massachusetts. Governor Bernard, 
in this case, dealt with a distressed community in a spirit of 
candor and conciliation, for which he met with grateful ac- 
knowledgments. While doing this, he received a despatch 
from Lord Hillsborough, terming the Circular Letter of the 
last House inflammatory, tending to create unwarrantable 
combinations, and to excite unjustifiable opposition to the 
authority of parliament ; and containing the royal order for 
the assembly to rescind the resolution on which it was based, 
on the penalty of a dissolution in case of a refusal. Hence the 
Governor, June 21, sent to the House the following mes- 
sage : " I have His Majesty's orders to make a requisition to 
you, which I communicate in the very words in which I have 
received it. I must desire you to take it into immediate 
consideration, and I assure you, that your resolution thereon 
will have most important consequences to the province. I 
am myself merely ministerial in this business, having received 
His Majesty's instruction for all I have to do in it. I heart- 
ily wish that you may see how forcible the expediency of 
your giving His Majesty this testimonial of your duty and 
submission, is at this time. If you should think otherwise, I 
must nevertheless do my duty." The Governor sent only 

1 The " Life and Times of Joseph Warren," chap, iv., has a relation of the occur- 
rences in Boston on this occasion. 


the part of Hillsborough's despatch containing the requisi- 
tion. This message placed George III. in a novel position 
before an American assembly. 

There was no debate at this time ; but the news of the 
message spread through the community, and in the after- 
noon, as the gallery l and both of the doors of the hall were 
open, 2 there were present great numbers of the citizens. 
The message was read again ; when James Otis took the 
floor, and spoke two hours on public affairs. He named 
the king with respect, but arraigned with great severity the 
course of the ministry. He reviewed the past, extolled the 
times of the Commonwealth, and eulogized Cromwell. He 
cast the political horoscope, prophesied of the future, and 
hoped there would be another congress. He portrayed the 
character of the members of parliament, dwelling on the 
unfitness of many for their places. " We have now before 
us," he said, " a letter from Lord Hillsborough. From the 
style, one would conclude it to be the performance of a school- 
boy. They are pleased in their wonderful sagacity to find 
fault with our Circular Letter. I defy the whole legislature 
of Great Britain to write one equally correct." He shewed 
that it would be impossible for the new House to rescind a 
measure of the previous House, which had been executed ; 
and he exclaimed, " When Lord Hillsborough knows that 
we will not rescind our acts, he should apply to parliament 
to rescind theirs. Let Britain rescind her measures, or the 
colonies are lost to her for ever." 3 He spoke in an impas- 

1 On the motion of Otis, June 3, 1766, a gallery was opened "for such as wished 
to hear the debates;" the first instance, Tudor remarks ("Life of Otis," 253), ot 
authorized publicity being given to legislative deliberations. A writer in the " New 
Hampshire Gazette," cited in the "Boston Gazette," Dec. 15, 1766, expressed his 
satisfaction at the opportunity he had of hearing the debates in the Massachusetts 
assembly, and hoped that the people of that colony "would soon have the same 
happy privilege of galleries." 

2 Bernard's letter, July 16. 

8 Bernard's letters of June 28 and July 16. The journal of the House, however, 
says, that, in the morning, the consideration of the message and papers was referred 
to the next day at ten o'clock. Bernard's letters are very minute. He says that he 
went every day to the council chamber, and his friends reported to him what was 
said and done in the House. 


sioned vein, and then his tongue was as a flame of fire. This 
speech was one of the masterly efforts of the great orator. 

The question occupied the minds of the House for nine 
days, during which the members were guided by a special 
committee, 1 and were inspired by the answers received from 
the other assemblies. The Governor, in a second message, 
communicated the threat to dissolve the House in case of 
non-compliance ; in a third, he pressed a decision ; in a 
fourth, he declined to grant a recess. He passed much time 
in the council chamber, watching the proceedings. On the 
30th of June, the speaker informed the House that the com- 
mittee were ready to report, when the gallery was ordered 
to be cleared ; the door was locked and notice was sent to 
the council that the House was entering on a debate of im- 
portance. The door-keeper was directed not to call any 
member out, nor to let any messenger come in, until further 
orders. No reporter described the scene in this secret ses- 
sion. Thomas Gushing was in the chair, and Samuel Adams 
was the clerk. A letter addressed to Lord Hillsborough was 
read. It stated the origin and purpose of the Circular Let- 
ter ; that the House was the representative of the com- 
mons of the province, as the British House was of the Brit- 
ish commons ; that perhaps no requisition from the throne, 
of the nature then made, had been known since the Revolu- 
tion ; and it expressed the hope that a petition to the king 
might not be deemed inconsistent with the British con- 
stitution, nor a Letter, acquainting their fellow-subjects 
with what they had done, be judged an inflammatory pro- 
ceeding. The letter was read twice, adopted, and ordered 
to be sent to Lord Hillsborough. Then the question was 
put, " Whether this House will rescind the resolution of the 
last House which gave birth to their Circular Letter to the 
several houses of representatives and burgesses of the other 

1 The committee consisted of Mr. Speaker, Mr. Otis, Mr. Adams, Mr. Hancock, 
Col. Otis, Col. Bowers, Mr. Spooner, Col. Warren, and Mr. Saunders. Bernard 
(letter, July 16) says, they were "entirely of the most violent heads of the fac- 


colonies on this continent." The vote was taken by yeas 
and nays, and was printed in the newspapers in the order 
of counties. Suffolk led in the negative, with the names of 
Otis, Gushing, Adams, and Hancock ; Middlesex, with Bar- 
rett, subsequently in command in the fight at Concord, Pres- 
cott, and Gardner, the first treasurer in the provisional 
government; Essex, with the familiar names of Greenleaf, 
Phillips, and Gerrish ; Worcester, with Bigelow, distin- 
guished in civil walks, the Whitcombs, for service in the 
field, and Ward, the future commander of the American 
forces ; Plymouth, with White, the Secretary of the Com- 
mittee of Safety, arid James Warren, the President of the 
Provincial Congress; Cumberland (Maine), with Preble; 
and other counties, with names held in grateful remem- 
brance for large revolutionary services. Ninety-two an- 
swered nay, and among them were several who usually 
voted on the side of the administration, 1 while only seven- 
teen answered yea. The House then adopted an answer to 
the messages of the Governor, saying that they regarded 
the Circular Letter moderate and innocent, respectful to the 
authority of parliament, and dutiful to the king ; that they 
entertained sentiments of reverence and affection for both ; 
that, should they ever depart from these sentiments, they 
must stand " self-condemned as unworthy the name of Brit- 
ish subjects descended from British ancestors, intimately 
allied and connected in interests and inclination with their 
fellow-subjects, the commons of Great Britain;" that the 
resolution required to be rescinded was not then executory, 
but executed ; that answers had been received to the Letter, 
which were in the public papers, and the world must judge 
of their proposals and purposes ; that they, as subjects, 
claimed the rights of petition jointly and severally, of cor- 
respondence and of having a free assembly, and that the 

1 Bernard says (letter, June 28), "Among the majority were many members 
who were scarce ever known upon any other occasion to vote against the govern- 
ment side of a question." 


charge of treason was hurled at some of the best blood of 
the province. After stating the vote refusing to comply 
with the royal command, they concluded : " In all this we 
have been actuated by a conscientious, and finally a clear 
and determined sense of duty to God, to our king, our coun- 
try, and to our latest posterity ; and we most ardently wish 
and humbly pray that in your future conduct your Excellency 
may be influenced by the same principles." l This action 
was in the spirit of fidelity to self-government manifested by 
a former Massachusetts assembly when it triumphantly re- 
sisted an illegal commission of Charles II. 2 

The Governor, early in the day, went to the council cham- 
ber to watch the proceedings of the House ; but he says they 
kept locked up all the morning. The council were in ses- 
sion when the special committee appeared bearing the noble 
answer of the House, which was read ; when the Governor 
immediately summoned all the representatives before him. 
" A fracas occurred," he says. " One of the council expos- 
tulated with me upon my calling up the House whilst the 
council was engaged in business, and was so indecent as to 
appeal to the House. I silenced him. Another gentleman 
interrupted. I stopped him also and proceeded to the pro- 
rogation." 3 The Governor thus closed the session. He 
dissolved the General Court the next day by Proclamation, 
which was formally published by the sheriffs in every county. 

1 "Boston Gazette," July 4, 1768, has the answer. The committee who carried 
it to the council were Col. Bowers, Major Fry, Mr. Greenleaf, Col. Saltonstall, and 
Brigadier Preble. 

2 See above, page 59. George Grenville, in the House of Commons, termed the 
king's order for the House to rescind the Circular Letter an unwarrantable stretch of 
p 0wer . "Boston Evening Post," May 1, 1769. This was the view of Burke and 
Widderburne. Bancroft, vi. 232. 

3 Bernard, July 1, 1768. His letters stated that the patriots were inaugurating 
a rebellion. The assembly petitioned the king for the removal of Bernard. The 
petition was reported, June 28, by a committee consisting of "Mr. Adams, Mr. Otis, 
Col. Otis, and Mr. Hancock, and has the following: 

" He has endeavored to persuade Your Majesty's ministers to believe that an inten- 
tion was formed, and a plan settled, in this, and the rest of your colonies, treasonably 
to withdraw themselves from all connection with, and dependence upon, Great Britain 
and from their natural allegiance to Your Majesty's sacred person and government." 


It was thus made known that the vital right of representa- 
tion was to be enjoyed only on the condition of a servile 
compliance with an arbitrary royal instruction. 

These proceedings created profound sensation in this 
colony and in other colonies. It was said that the question 
was the greatest which had ever occupied the attention 
of an American legislature ; that the brave and virtuous 
behavior of the assembly in the sacred cause of liberty and 
their country gave general satisfaction; and that the vote 
not to rescind elicited as evident tokens of joy as were mani- 
fested on the fall of Louisburg or the conquest of Canada ; 
and that the "Illustrious Ninety-Two" was the toast in all 
companies. " May the same noble zeal," a New-Yorker 
wrote, " spread itself from town to town and colony to 
colony, till we become united as one man in this glorious 
resolution, never to surrender our inherent rights and 
privileges." 1 

And now the other royal order, requiring the assemblies 
not to notice the Massachusetts Circular Letter, appeared in 
the newspapers in a despatch sent by Lord Hillsborough to 
the Governor of Rhode Island. The despatch termed the 
Circular Letter an unwarrantable combination and a flagitious 
attempt to disturb the public peace, and the Governor was 
instructed to treat it with the contempt it deserved. Hills- 
borough recognized the proofs which the colony had repeat- 
edly given of reverence and respect for the laws and of faith- 
ful attachment to the constitution ; and he remarked that His 
Majesty expected it would give another proof by shewing 
proper resentment at that unjustifiable attempt to revive 

1 Letter dated New York, July 14, 1768. The " Boston Evening Post," July 4, 

" We cannot too much admire and commend the conduct of our House of assembly. 
Though threatened with immediate annihilation unless they complied with a requisition 
to rescind the resolution of a former H mse, they have, with a firmness and unanimity 
becoming the representatives of a wise and free people, asserted and maintained in- 
stead of giving up their rights and privileges; thus preferring the life of their country 
to their own political existence. The names, however, of the famoijs Ninety-Two will 
live for ever in the annals of America." 


those dissensions which had operated so fatally to the preju- 
dice of this kingdom and the colonies. This despatch l was 
first commented on as addressed only to the Governor of Rhode 
Island, but it proved to be a general circular to the govern- 
ors ; and it had the effect to put the king before all the assem- 
blies in the same attitude as he stood in towards the Massa- 
chusetts House. It provoked severe comment. The patriots 
termed it an attempt to prevent a colony from uniting with 
the continent in all legal endeavors for the removal of gen- 
eral grievances, and a fresh proof of the necessity of a com- 
mon union. They reasoned : " One would think that a joint 
supplication would meet with a more gracious reception than 
separate and different prayers. In public and joint worship 
of the Supreme Being, a special promise of a blessing is 
annexed. Is it not very strange, then, that the minister 
should attempt to make us believe that the recommendation 
of the principal government to the several legislatures in 
this remote part of the world, to join in beseeching our 
gracious Sovereign to consider and remove our griefs, is 
dangerous or factious ? He might as well persuade us, that, 
in a time of pestilence or famine, a united supplication to 
Heaven to remove the calamity was an unwarrantable com- 
bination." 2 

The assemblies now had before them the Circular Letters 
of Massachusetts and Virginia communicated by the speak- 
ers, and the king's requisition to treat the Letter of Massa- 
chusetts with contempt, communicated by the Royal Govern- 
ors, who enjoined a compliance with it in terms dictated by 
their judgment of their public duty. The action that fol- 
lowed strikingly illustrates the oneness of spirit and prin- 

1 This despatch, dated Whitehall, April 21, 1768, was printed in the "Boston 
Gazette," June 27, as a "copy of a Letter communicated to the Assembly of the 
Colony of Rhode Island on Saturday, the 18th inst." It was signed "Hills- 
borough." This despatch, the Circular Letter of February 11, the replies of 
Virginia, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and a relation of the proceedings of the 
Massachusetts House, are printed on the same day in one newspaper. 

2 "Boston Evening Post," July 18, 1768. The citation is from a spirited com- 
munication signed* Roger Martyn, and dated Colony of Rhode Island, July 5, 1768. 


ciple which animated the patriots and the development of 
the sentiment of union. 

In Maryland, Governor Sharpe assumed an arrogant tone 
as he laid the king's requisition before the assembly, saying, 
that he flattered himself, in case such a Letter as he described 
had been addressed to the House, they would confirm the 
favorable opinion His Majesty entertained of his Maryland 
subjects by taking no notice of it. The House, in a high- 
toned and admirable reply, said : " What we shall do upon 
this occasion, or whether in consequence of that Letter we 
shall do any thing, it is not our present business to com- 
municate to your Excellency ; but of this be pleased to be 
assured, that we cannot be prevailed on to take no notice 
of, or to treat with the least degree of contempt, a Letter so 
expressive of duty and loyalty to the sovereign, and so 
replete with just principles of liberty ; and your Excellency 
may depend that, whenever we apprehend the rights of the 
people to be affected, we shall not fail boldly to assert and 
steadily endeavor to maintain and support them, always 
remembering, what we could wish never to be forgot, that by 
the bill of rights it is declared, < That it is the right of the 
subject to petition the king, and all commitments and prose- 
cutions for such petitioning are illegal.' " The House said, 
in an answer to the Massachusetts Circular, that they felt 
obliged by a candid and free communication of sentiment by 
a sister colony on a point so interesting to the whole ; that 
they coincided exactly with the opinions expressed as to the 
consequences of the new acts of parliament ; and were per- 
suaded' of the necessity of harmonizing as much as possible 
in public measures for redress. 1 

In South Carolina, Governor Montagu enjoined the as- 
sembly to treat with contempt any letter or paper that 
appeared to have the smallest tendency to sedition ; when the 
assembly assured his Excellency, that, should a communica- 

1 The Reply of Maryland, dated June 24, is in the Boston papers of July 11, 
1768; also Gov. Sharpe' s message and the answers of the assembly. 


tion of such a character be laid before them, they would 
treat it with the contempt it deserved. The Governor then, 
in a message, specified the Circular Letter of Massachusetts, 
already before them, as of factious tendency. A committee, 
composed of such eminent men as Gadsden, Laurens, 
Rutledge, Lynch, and Pinckney, reported resolves declaring 
the circulars of Massachusetts and Virginia replete with 
duty and loyalty to His Majesty, respect for the parliament, 
affection for the mother- country, tender care for the preser- 
vation of the rights of His Majesty's subjects, and founded 
upon undeniable constitutional principles. Twenty-six mem- 
bers voted for these resolves. At eight o'clock the same 
evening, the Governor, by beat of drum, dissolved the 
assembly, when the general toast became, " The Unanimous 
Twenty-Six who would not recede from the Massachusetts 
Circular Letter." The speaker, in the name of the House, 
sent an answer to the Massachusetts assembly, courteously 
thanking them for their communication to their fellow-sub- 
jects and sufferers ; and, transmitting the journal of the pro- 
ceedings which caused their own dissolution, remarked, that 
the record must convince the impartial world that the House 
had acted with duty and affection to His Majesty, and at the 
same time had supported with firmness the rights they held 
under the Constitution. 1 

The assembly of Georgia was composed of twenty-five 
members, and eighteen were stanch Whigs. When the 
circulars of Massachusetts and Virginia were laid before 
the commons, they resolved that these circulars were not 
of a factious tendency, but were calculated to promote a 

l The reply of South Carolina is dated Nov. 21, and is in the " Boston Gazette " 
of Jan. 9, 1769. The resolutions and other papers were printed in the issue of the 
2d of January. The committee to petition the king were Capt. Gadsden, Mr. Lynch, 
and Mr. Rutledge. The "Gazette" says: "The assembly of South Carolina is 
pleased to say that it (Circular Letter) is 'founded on undeniable constitutional prin- 
ciples ; ' if so, it will be difficult to make it appear that it is calculated to encourage 
opposition to and a denial of the (just) authority of Parliament, which is always cir- 
cumscribed by the Constitution." 


justifiable union of subjects, who felt aggrieved, in law- 
ful and laudable ways to obtain redress, and that they 
originated in a commendable and tender attachment to the 
natural rights of the American colonies. Governor Wright 
in vain warned them that this action tended to independence, 
and that this would bring ruin on America. They adopted 
a reply to the Massachusetts Circular, in which they entirely 
approved of the method it suggested for obtaining a redress 
of common grievances, and of the course of communicating 
an account of those measures to the other colonies. The 
arrogant tone of the Governor's messages and his dissolution 
of the House elicited severe comment from the press. 1 

In Rhode Island, the assembly, 'on receiving the Circular 
Letter, proceeded to act in accordance with its suggestions 
by preparing petitions. A letter from the speaker, in reply, 
gave a strong assurance that the assembly highly approved 
of the Massachusetts House, and thought their measures 
were worthy of a free people and perfectly consistent with 
that loyalty to His Majesty and regard for the British Con- 
stitution which had always distinguished the province. 2 

In Pennsylvania, the assembly considered the acts of par- 
liament, and gave instructions to their agents in London to- 
unite with the agents of the other colonies in efforts to* 
effect their repeal. On receiving the Circular Letter, the 
assembly directed it to be entered on their journals. When 
the royal requisition to treat it with contempt was laid be- 
fore them, with the declaration that the Governor, in case 
of refusal, was commanded to dissolve them, they resolved 
that by their charter they had the right to sit on their 
own adjournments, that the Governor had no right to dis- 
solve them, and that they had an undoubted right to corre- 

1 The reply of Georgia is dated Dec. 24, 1768, and is in the "Boston Gazette" 
of March 6, 1769. Governor Wright's message and the resolves are in the "Massa- 
chusetts Gazette," Feb. 13. The "Gazette" of Feb. 6 says, that Wright's speech 
was as extraordinary as any speech that had appeared, with one exception. 

2 The petition of Rhode Island to the king is in the "Boston Post Boy," May 15, 



spond with the representatives of the freemen of any of tlie 
colonies in America. They petitioned the king for a redress 
of grievances. A large public meeting in Philadelphia 
declared in favor of a cordial union of sentiment and meas- 
ures with the other colonies, on which they said the happi- 
ness of the whole depended. 1 

In Delaware, the assembly asserted the right of corre- 
spondence, expressed their intention to co-operate with the 
other colonies, and, in a petition to the king, affirmed that 
if the British parliament could enforce obedience to every 
act of theirs imposing taxes, and deprive the assemblies of 
the power of legislation for differing with them in opinion 
in matters of legislation, the colonies would have not the 
shadow of liberty left. 2 

In New York, the freemen of the city, in a letter addressed 
to their representatives, regarded the despatch of Hillsbor- 
ough, inhibiting the assemblies from answering the Circular 
Letter, as the most daring insult that was ever offered to 
any free legislative body ; entreated them to answer the Let- 
ter in a respectable manner ; and said that, as the unanimity 
it recommended to the colonies was their only bulwark and 
defence, any attempts to intimidate them from so glorious a 
purpose ought to be treated with the contempt and just in- 
dignation which they could not but excite in the minds of 
virtuous representatives of a free people. The assembly 
sent petitions to the king and the lords, and a remonstrance 
to the commons. It adopted a reply to the Circular Letter, 
in which it applauded the Massachusetts House for its atten- 
tion to American liberty ; and, in resolves, it declared that 
it had an undoubted right to correspond and consult with 
any of the neighboring colonies, or with any of His Majesty's 

1 Gordon Hist. Perm., 451-456. The proceedings of the public meeting of July 
30 are in the "Boston News Letter," Aug. 15, 1768. The petition and memorial to 
king and parliament, dated Sept. 22, 1768, are in the "Massachusetts Gazette," 
Feb. 16, 1769. 

2 The petition of Delaware to the king is dated State House, Oct. 28, 1768, and 
was copied into the "Gentleman's Magazine" for 1769, p. 29. 


subjects in any part of his dominions ; and it chose a com- 
mittee of correspondence. 1 

The North Carolina assembly returned a hearty answer 
to the Circular Letter, saying they were extremely obliged 
for it, should ever be ready to unite firmly with their sister 
colonies in every constitutional measure for the redress of 
grievances, cultivate the strictest harmony and friendship 
with their assemblies and interchange political sentiment. 

When this patriotic letter was printed, it was said that 
the colonies were no longer disconnected from each other, 
but formed one body and were possessed by a common sen- 
sation. 2 The people manifested their approval of the doings 
of their representatives by votes of thanks, by joyful demon- 
strations and re-elections. County meetings and town meet- 
ings called for union, for a continuance of correspondence, and 
for a general congress, in some instances towns pledging 
life and fortune in support of their American brethren. 3 In 

1 The reply of the assembly of New York, no date, the resolutions, and Governor 
Moore's message, are in "Boston Gazette" of Jan. 16, 1769. The reply is signed 
by Phillip Livingston. The petition to the House of Lords, dated Dec. 31, 1768, has 
the following: " That our colony legislatures are so numerous, is owing to the pleas- 
ure of the crown ; and let it be remembered that the parliament stood by and saw 
their creation and rise without intimating the least disapprobation; nor was the 
present claim of the commons ever hinted till that melancholy case which gave birth 
to that fatal act which has proved so destructive of the general repose." 

2 The reply of North Carolina, dated Nov. 10, 1768, is in the " Boston Evening 
Post" of May 15, 1769, accompanied by the following remark: "The above letter 
completes the answers to our Circular Letter. The colonies, no longer disconnected, 
form one body; a common sensation possesses the whole; the circulation is complete, 
and the vital fluid returns from whence it was sent out." 

3 The town of Lebanon, Conn., on the 26th of September, 1768, expressed a 
hearty union with their brethren of Boston, and said that they would consider an 
attack on their liberties "in the same light as though we ourselves were the imme- 
diate sufferers; and, with a determinate, unalterable resolution and firmness, we 
agree to assist and support our American brethren at the expense of our lives apd 
fortunes, should their welfare, which is so intimately blended with our own, demand 
the sacrifice." These resolves are attested by William Williams, town clerk, 
"Pennsylvania Chronicle," Oct. 17, 1768. The town of New London instructed its 
representative to take the most effectual measures to keep up a union with all the 
neighboring colonies. Ibid., Oct. 24. The town of Windham, Conn., instructed its 
representatives, Oct. 10, to move for measures to bring about a general congress 
from the several English governments upon the continent. Ibid., Oct. 31, 1768. 


New York, the assemblymen, who had distinguished them- 
selves by " supporting the rights and liberties of their coun- 
try," were escorted through Broadway by a vast concourse 
with music and banners, and saluted by huzzas, the 
Daughters of Liberty signifying their approval from the 
windows. 1 In Massachusetts, a convention of delegates 
from the towns, on the call of the selectmen, met in Faneuil 
Hall. It was a fine representation of the intelligence and 
patriotism of the province ; and though the rash spirits were 
ready to rush to arms and oppose by force the troops ordered 
to be stationed in Boston, when they should arrive, yet they 
were wisely controlled, and the convention simply gave to 
public opinion its most august form. The general approval 
of the Circular Letter and the growing spirit of union filled 
the hearts of the Boston patriots with joy ; so that Cooper 
and Adams said it was the most glorious day they ever 

This political action kept remarkably true to social order, 
carried on under the banner of law, was an unusual spec- 
tacle in the political world. England had not attained to 
the right of public meeting or the freedom of the press or 
publicity in the law-making body ; in France, for a century 
and a half the people had not appeared on the public stage ; 
and in Germany there was but a glimmer here and there 
of free discussion of political measures. In the colonies, 
Whig and Tory regarded this embodiment of public opinion 
as a new and powerful political agency. The Tory feared 
it more than he did the greatest disorders ; for he saw that 
the sentiment thus put forth on the nature of government 
very often met with the approbation of the body of the peo- 
ple, and could not be counteracted. 2 The Whig, on subse- 

1 The relation says the brilliant appearance of the ladies at the windows, the 
number of principal inhabitants who graced the procession, and the regularity and 
good order with which the whole was conducted, exhibited one of the finest and 
most agreeable sights ever seen in this city. Boston Post Boy, Feb. 17, 17G8. 

2 Thomas Hutchinson to Lord Hillsborough, Oct. 19, 1768. 


quently revolving the steps of progress towards the Revolu- 
tion, viewed the spark in every American that blazed in the 
public meeting as " that almost divine spirit that evidenced 
the approach of an independent and free republic in 
America." 1 

At this time society was alive with politics. Two num- 
bers now play a conspicuous part in private and public life : 
Forty-Five, the number of the " North Briton " which occa- 
sioned the arbitrary action in England against the press, and 
Ninety-Two, that of the Massachusetts vote against rescinding 
the Circular Letter. " Forty-Five " for years had been 
used in England to symbolize liberty ; and when the Ameri- 
cans in London heard of the action of the Massachusetts 
assembly, their favorite toast became : " May the unrescind- 
ing Ninety-Two be for ever united in idea with the glorious 
Forty-Five." 2 These talismanic numbers were combined in 
endless variety in the colonies. Ninety-two patriots at the 
festival would drink forty-five toasts. The representative 
would have forty-five or ninety-two votes. The ball would 
have ninety-two jigs and forty-five minuets. The Daugh- 
ters of Liberty would, at a quilting party, find their 
garment of forty-five pieces of calico of one color and 
ninety-two of another. Ninety-two Sons of Liberty would 
raise a flag-staff forty-five feet high. At a dedication of a 
Liberty Tree in Charleston, S.C., forty-five lights hung on 
its branches, forty-five of the company bore torches in 
the procession, and they joined on the march in honors to 
the Massachusetts Ninety-Two. At the festival, forty-five 
candles lighted the table and ninety-two glasses were used 
in drinking the toasts ; and the President gave as a senti- 
ment : " May the ensuing members of the assembly be 
unanimous, and never recede from the resolutions of the 
Massachusetts Ninety-Two." The Sons of Liberty of Massa- 
chusetts, in their celebrations, toasted " The assemblies on 

1 Boston Gazette, Jan. 27, 1777. 

2 Boston News Letter, Jan. 26, 1769. 


this vast and rapidly populating continent, who treated a 
late haughty and merely ministerial mandate with all that 
contempt it so justly deserves." 1 

The proceedings growing out of the Circular Letter are 
certainly remarkable. The action of the king is in the 
spirit of Louis XIY., who, in his hunting dress and his 
great boots, with a whip in his hand, entered the French 
Parliament, saying: " The mischievous consequences of your 
assemblies are well known. I therefore order this, which is 
met to discuss my edict, to be now at an end." 2 The action 
of the assemblies is that of freemen knowing their privileges 
and duties. They concurred in a spirited assertion of the 
inherent rights of political discussion, of free interchange 
of thought, of an untrammelled legislature, in a word, of 
their right to enjoy the national heritage of English law, 
not merely for themselves, but for their posterity ; and with 
the thought, as an inspiration, that they were acting not 
merely for their country, but for humanity. They asked 
that their municipal freedom and self-government, which 
were felt to be fountains of a rich public life, might be 
spared from the benumbing influences of centralization ; and 
thus that the public liberty developed on American soil, out 
of the roots of a grand historic past, might be respected as 
a sacred possession. This was the sum of their prayer to 
the Sovereignty ; or, in words often used, to the mother-coun- 
try. The tone of affection in which they addressed her is 
as that of children, conscious of, and grateful for, the benefi- 
cent influences which the venerable parent casts around 
them as an invulnerable shield. 

The memorials and petitions were delivered by the agents 
of the colonies into the hands of Lord Hillsborough. Ow- 

1 The following is one of the paragraphs that went the rounds of the newspapers : 
"America seems to have been very early concerned in the numbers 92 and 45. It 
was discovered in fourteen hundred and 92 ; and the inhabitants of San Salvador 
(the first land discovered) visited Admiral Columbus in their canoes, with 45 per- 
sons in each." 

2 Voltaire's Age of Louis XIV., ii. 2. 


ing to various causes not needed to be dwelt upon here, rea- 
soning which seemed conclusive, and loyalty urged with a 
fervid sincerity, proved of no avail. The petitions, it was 
said, were from a distempered and a delirious people. Some 
did not reach the royal ear. Some met with cold neglect. 
All were thrown in the faces of the colonists. The misrep- 
resentations of unscrupulous politicians working for selfish 
ends, or of conservatives jealous of the republican idea, out- 
weighed the noble appeals of millions of loyal subjects. 1 

The proceedings in Massachusetts attracted in England 
the greatest attention, elicited the severest comment, and, 
because a military force had been ordered to Boston to sup- 
port the stand of the administration, created the greatest 
solicitude. The step of the assembly, in inviting union, 
was peculiarly obnoxious. Lord Mansfield thought its mem- 
bers ought to be summoned to England to account for their 
conduct. The king, on opening parliament, characterized 
the action of Boston as a subversion of the Constitution and 
evincing a disposition to throw off dependence on Great 
Britain. The indictment against the colonies was presented 
in sixty papers laid before parliament. Both Houses de- 
clared that the proceedings of the Massachusetts assembly 
in opposition to the revenue acts were unconstitutional, and 
derogatory to the rights of the crown and the parliament ; 
that the Circular Letter tended to create unlawful combina- 
tions ; that the call of a convention by the selectmen of 
Boston was proof of a design of setting up an independent 
authority ; and both Houses proposed to transport the orig- 
inators of the obnoxious proceedings to England for trial 
and condign punishment under the cover of an obsolete 
act of Henry VIII. 2 Some in England denounced this 

1 A spirited piece copied into the " Boston Gazette " of May, 22, 1769, from the 
"Maryland Gazette" of May 4, says "that the acts and misrepresentations of men 
in office have had greater weight than the humble and dutiful petitions and remon- 
strances of all the colonies, and the cries of four millions of loyal subjects." 

2 A copy of what was termed the substance of the Resolves passed by the House 
of Lords was printed in the " Boston Gazette " of March 20, 1769. The newspapers 
also printed the Act of Henry VIII. , which was said to extend to America. 


action as in the spirit of despotism. It was said that the 
soberest men began to be alarmed ; that they ruminated on 
the scenes of the last century ; 1 and that the bloody axe of 
Henry VIII. had been scoured up and whetted for the 
necks of the poor Americans. 2 The momentous question 
of England and her colonies was the subject of diplomatic 
correspondence, and was the talk in Madrid, in Paris, and 
at every court in Europe. 3 

The king's speeches, the parliamentary documents, and 
the debates and a flood of letters circulating broadcast in 
the American newspapers, revealed the hot temper of Eng- 
land, and filled the colonies with indignation. Tory officials 
added to the bitterness by calling the Whigs deceivers and 
hypocrites, who said they only opposed an administration 
when they aimed at independence, who professed loyalty, 
but were plotting rebellion. This charge was a severe strain 
on the nerves of honest men. A single sentence will show 
how their muscles quivered as they met the insulting allega- 
tion. " It is enough to make a man's bones crack that, 
when the manly, fair, dispassionate arguments of the colo- 
nists in support of their rights and privileges remain totally 
unanswered, every mushroom upstart and petty officer of the 
revenue should cry out rebels and traitors." 4 The stir was 
so general, the passions were so roused, and the Whigs were 
so unanimous, that it was said in the press: " Throughout the 
wide extended settlements of America there is hardly to be 
found an American who is not determined to die a free- 

The administration Determined to make an example of 
Massachusetts, as the ring-leading province in political mis- 
chief, by transporting its popular leaders to England to be 
tried for their lives in the king's bench. Such was the pur- 

1 Letter from London in "Boston Evening Post," June 26, 1769. 

2 "London Public Advertiser," Jan. 15, 1769, copied into "Boston Evening 
Post" of Aug. 21. 

3 Bancroft, vi. 182. * Boston Gazette, June 26, 1769. 


port of an elaborate despatch which Lord Hillsborough sent 
to Governor Bernard, directing an inquiry to be instituted 
into the conduct of any persons who had committed any 
overt act of resistance to the laws. This step was the occa- 
sion of a flood of reports contained in letters printed in 
the newspapers. 1 Thus a great issue was created that 
affected all the colonies; for the proposed action touched 
the individual unit of society. Because this was man, it 
had rank and position on American soil which power was 
bound to respect. The word now was that Massachusetts 
or Boston represented a common cause and ought to be 
sustained. 2 

There was no adequate step taken to meet the threatened 
aggression until the House .of Burgesses of Virginia con- 
vened in May. This colony, in opposing the administration, 
was co-equal with Massachusetts in guilt or in merit ; but 
while the bayonet was pointed at the one, blandishment was 
devised for the other, -it being a cardinal object of the 
government to divide the colonies, and thus paralyze their 
efforts. Many years had elapsed since a governor had re- 
sided in Virginia ; and the selection of Lord Botetourt, with 
the understanding that he should live in the colony, it was 
supposed would be so pleasing that it was termed a measure 
for reconciling America. 3 He was fresh from the closet of 

1 Boston Gazette, April 17, 1769. 

2 The following from the "Boston Evening Post," April 3, 1769, will give an 
idea of matter circulated in the newspapers : 

" Williamsburg, Va., Feb. 23. Extract from a London letter dated Nov. 9, 1768. 
During the debate in the House of Commons, on the king's speech, doctrines were 

mentioned that would set America in flames, if they were admitted, by N th, 

C rl, and B n. These were to govern America by military force, seize Otis 

(whose name was frequently mentioned) and all the leading men in Boston, and 
everywhere else, who opposed their measures, bring them here and hang them. The 
Ministry are violent against us. ... I think all America should be swallowed up 
in an earthquake, if they do not stand by Boston; for if that fall they will in a short 
time: they must share the same fate. And let this be the American political creed, 
that a firm, steady, and determined union, and constitutional opposition, will be the 
surest safeguard from any violence from hence." 

3 Whately, in Grenville Papers, iv. 331. 


the king, where he had been a groom of the bed-chamber, 
and though characterized by Junius as a cringing, bowing, 
sword-bearing courtier, yet was urbane, and as governor 
evinced good sense, was really friendly to the colony, and 
won tlie general good-will. His speech to the Burgesses 
was complimentary, but no more than just to their loyalty, 
and contained assurances of the royal favor. A reply in the 
same spirit was so satisfactory to the Governor, that, in a 
rejoinder, he said that he could not wish a word of it altered. 
He was so complaisant as, in the course of two days, to 
receive at his table, with an elegant hospitality, all the Bur- 
gesses. Though he executed firmly the order of his supe- 
riors, he managed to retain the good-will of the Virginians to 
the day of his death ; and they erected a monument to his 

The Burgesses included in their ranks illustrious men; 
for Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Peyton Randolph, 
Archibald Carey, and Washington, were of their number ; all 
of whom were in former assemblies. Thomas Jefferson, at 
the age of twenty-six, was a member for the first time. He 
fitted for college in the classic schools of two Episcopal 
clergymen ; had two years' training in Williams and Mary 
and read law with George Wy the, who was his friend through 
life and introduced him to the bar. He took an office in 
Williamsburg, soon had a large and growing practice, and 
attained high rank in the profession he loved. His manners 
were elegant, and his conversation was fascinating. He had 
hunted on his native hills, travelled as far north as New 
York, and had met Elbridge Gerry, of Boston. He was a 
hard student in the fields of literature and science, and 
already was a philosopher and a man of the world. He was 
of so lovable a nature that his family and intimate friends 
seemed to idolize him. His uncommon legal erudition 
broadened rather than narrowed his mind. He drew from 
the wells of the noble parliamentarians of the age of the 
Commonwealth, became a disciple of the republican school, 


and had a living faith in its idea. He also had a faith in 
humanity that never wavered. He aimed to secure for it 
law that should deal out equal and exact justice to all men, 
and he sought to lift all men up to their native dignity by 
life-long labor in the cause of education. His fidelity in 
applying principle appears in his courageous and wise work 
in early assailing the laws of primogeniture, entails, and 
the established church. This fidelity, with practical states- 
manship, carried him to the head of a powerful party who 
gave him their love and confidence. He had the rare 
faculty of compressing political ideas into a small compass, 
which were accepted by a political school as its current plat- 
form ; and this enabled him to wield an influence over his 
countrymen larger and longer than fell to the lot of any 
other American. He began his remarkable career by intro- 
ducing into the 'House of Burgesses a bill to give the owners 
of slaves the right to manumit them, and by throwing him- 
self with ardor into the American cause, which from this 
time had the benefit of his felicitous pen. 

It was the report among the Burgesses that the Governor 
would be gratified if they would maintain silence on political 
questions. The popular leaders, however, had revolved the 
grave issue that had sprung up, and came prepared to play a 
great part. They adopted a series of resolves declaring that 
the sole right of imposing taxes on the inhabitants of the 
colony was constitutionally vested in the House of Burgesses, 
with the consent of the Council and His Majesty, or his 
Governor for the time being; that it was an undoubted 
privilege to petition the Sovereign, and procure the concur- 
rence of the other colonies ; that all trials for treason ought 
to be conducted in the courts of the colony, and that the 
seizing of any persons suspected of crime, and transporting 
them to places beyond seas, would deprive them of the ines- 
timable privilege of being tried by a jury from the vicinage ; 
and that a dutiful and loyal address be presented to His 
Majesty to beseech him to quiet the minds of the inhabitants 


of that colony, by averting the dangers and miseries that 
might ensue from the seizing and carrying beyond sea any 
person residing in America, to be tried in any other manner 
than by the ancient mode of proceeding. 1 These resolves 
were calm in manner, concise, simple, and effective, and so 
perfect in form and substance that time finds no omission to 
regret and no improvement to suggest. 2 They were viewed 
by one of the Burgesses as nothing more than a necessary 
and manly assertion of social privileges founded in reason, 
guaranteed by the English Constitution, and rendered sacred 

1 The Resolve? were passed May 16, 1769. They are in the "Pennsylvania 
Chronicle " of June 5, and in the Boston papers of June 8. They are as follows, 
copied from the " Chronicle: " 

Resolves of the House of Burgesses, passed the 16th of May, 1769. 

Resolved, Nemine ) That the sole right of imposing taxes on the inhabitants of thia 
Contradicente, ) His Majesty's Colony and Dominion of Virginia is now. and ever 
hath been, legally and constitutionally vested in the House of Burgesses, lawfully con- 
vened, according to the ancient and established practice, with the consent of the Coun- 
cil, and of His Majesty, the King of Great Britain, or his Governor for the time 

Resolved, nemlne contradicente. That it is the undoubted privilege of the inhabitants 
of this colony to petition their Sovereign for redress of grievances ; and that it is law- 
ful and expedient to procure the concurrence of His Majesty's other colonies, in dutiful 
addresses, praying the royal interposition in favor of the violated rights of America. 

Resolved, nemine contradicente, That all trials for treason, misprision of treason, or 
for any felony or crime whatsoever, committed and done in this His Majesty's said 
colony and dominion, by any person or persons residing therein, ought of right to be 
had, and conducted in and before His Majesty's courts, held within his said colony, 
according to the fixed and known course of proceeding; and that the seizing any per- 
son or persons residing in the colony, suspected of any crime whatsoever, committed 
therein, and sending such person or persons to places beyond the sea to be tried, is 
highly derogatory of the rights of British subjects, as thereby the inestimable privilege 
of being tried by a jury from the vicinage, as well as the liberty of summoning and 
producing witnesses on such trial, will be taken away from the party accused. 

Resolved, nemine contradicente, That an humble, dutiful and loyal address be pre- 
sented to His Majesty, to assure him of our inviolable attachment to his sacred person 
and government ; and to beseech his royal interposition, as the father of all his people, 
however remote from the seat of his empire, to quiet the minds of his loyal subjects of 
this colony, and to avert from them those dangers and miseries which will ensue, from 
the seizing and carrying beyond sea any person residing in America, suspected of any 
crime whatsoever, to be tried in any other manner than by the ancient and long estab- 
lished course of proceeding. 

The following order is likewise in their journal of that date : 

Ordered, That the speaker of this House do transmit, without delay, to the speakers 

of the several houses of assembly on this continent, a copy of the resolutions now 

agreed to by this House, requesting their concurrence therein. 

2 Bancroft, vi. 280. 


by the possession of two hundred years. 1 But Lord Bote- 
tourt looked on them as abominable, and dissolved the 

The speaker, Peyton Randolph, sent the resolves to the 
other assemblies, accompanied by a brief Circular Letter 
expressing a belief that the importance of the subject would 
be sufficient to engage immediate attention, and that the cir- 
cumstances of America would evince the propriety of the 
action of the Burgesses. 2 This generous action, spread 
through the colonies in the newspapers, elicited expressions 
of admiration and gratitude. A North-Carolina patriot 
wrote : " Don't you think the Virginians behaved like 
men ? " 3 A Philadelphia patriot exclaimed : " Noble con- 
duct! I hope every assembly on the continent will con- 
cur." 4 A New-York judgment ran : " The resolves breathe 
that noble spirit of freedom and inflexible firmness for which 
Virginia has been justly celebrated ever since the beginning 
of our troubles with Great Britain." 5 And it was said in 
Boston, " Joy and gladness are printed on the countenances 
of all the friends of liberty. ' The brave Virginians ' is a 
toast throughout New England, where the people bear them 
the most affectionate regard." 6 Well might there have 

1 Letter of Richard Henry Lee, May 31, 1769. 

2 Randolph's Circular was in the Boston papers of June 8, 1769. 

3 Letter in newspapers dated Edenton, N.C., June 22, 1769. 

4 John Dickenson's Letter, June 22. 

5 Massachusetts Gazette, June 15. 

6 Letter printed in Philadelphia, dated June 26. " The Journal of the Times " 
was the title of a series of papers prepared in Boston, but printed originally by 
John Holt, in New York, and extensively copied into the newspapers. They 
extend over many months. Under the date of June 16, 1769, it had the follow- 

" The late resolves of the Virginia assembly are regarded with veneration. They do 
great honor to themselves and give spirit to the other colonies. We see in these the 
same sense of justice, value for the constitutional rights of America, the same vigor 
and boldness, that breathed through the first resolves of that truly honorable house, 
and greatly contributed to form the free and generous spirit in which th'e colonies are 
now one. There is a peculiar generosity in the resolve, relating to the revival of the 
severe and obsolete statute of Henry VIII., by the late extraordinary resolutions of 
parliament, as this was pointed not directly against themselves, but another colony. 
Massachusetts ought long to remember this obligation, and as common sense dictates 


been this gratitude ; for Virginia invited all the colonies 
to make common cause with Massachusetts when king and 
parliament had laid a heavy hand upon her, and the pres- 
ence of an army and a fleet attested that complete submis- 
sion was decreed as her lot. 

The assemblies, as they convened, responded heartily to 
the Virginia resolves. The assembly of Delaware, the ear- 
liest to act, did it by reiterating their sentiment. 1 Some 
of the assemblies, as those of North Carolina, Rhode Island, 
and New York, adopted the Virginia resolves entire ; others, 
as in the case of Massachusetts, added resolves dictated by 
their local condition ; others, as in Maryland, altered the 
phraseology. The assemblies agreed in essentials. The 
harmony was so inspiring that it was said, " The whole con- 
tinent from New England to Georgia seems firmly fixed: 
like a strong, well-constructed arch, the more weight there 
is laid upon it the firmer it stands ; and thus with Americans, 
the more we are loaded the more we are united." 2 Thus 
grandly was the aagis of the inchoate union cast over the 
personal liberty of Americans. Thus fixed was the deter- 
mination to claim as a birthright trial by jury. 

When Lord Botetourt dissolved the House of Burgesses, 
the members immediately went to Anthony Hay's residence, 
chose Peyton Randolph moderator, discussed the situation, 
and decided to unite into an association to carry out the 
non-importation agreement. On the next day articles sub- 
that each colony should feel for its neighbors under those severities to which all are 
exposed, there will, there must be, a reciprocation of such kind of obligations and grate- 
ful sentiments through all the colonies, to the disappointment and confusion of those 
who wish to divide and enslave us." 

1 A letter dated Newcastle, Pa., May 19, will show the spirit of the time. " In con- 
sequence of a letter from the speaker of the late House of Burgesses of Virginia, en- 
closing their resolves, the House of assembly here took into consideration the advice 
given to His Majesty by the Houses of Parliament for the seizing and carrying over 
any person from America to England that may be obnoxious to the king's ministers, 
and the House thought fit to adopt the Virginia Resolves in spirit as well as senti- 
ment, which, if done in other governments on the continent, will be the best 
evidence of unanimity that can be given." Pennsylvania Chronicle, June 26, 

2 Massachusetts Gazette, Nov. 13, 1769. 


mitted by Washington were adopted and signed, his name 
being near the head of the list. The journals circulated 
these proceedings ; 1 and thus this patriotic movement re- 
ceived a powerful impulse. It had been ridiculed and 
opposed by the Tories when proposed in the time of the 
stamp act ; and, on its revival to meet the new revenue acts, 
it had not been generally adopted, even by the Whigs. 
Neither persuasion, threats, nor personal violence could 
bring the Tories to accede to it. They alleged that to stimu- 
late domestic manufactures would draw off labor from hus- 
bandry and the fisheries ; that the combination was illegal, 
a defiance of Great Britain, and tended to produce a breach 
between her and the colonies. 2 The Whigs in some quar- 
ters were backward in entering into it. Thus, because in 
Rhode Island they hesitated, this colony was held up in the 
press as a plague spot ; and patriots refused to deal with its 
inhabitants. 8 After the decisive action of the Burgesses, the 
Whigs pressed the movement vigorously ; assemblies thanked 
the merchants for their patriotism in adopting it ; 4 colony 
after colony, including Rhode Island, entered into it ; and 
when it was adopted by North Carolina, it was said : " This 
completes the chain of union throughout the continent for 
the measure of non-importation and economy." 5 It was 

1 The articles of association and signatures were printed in the "Philadelphia 
Chronicle" of June 5th, 1769, and are quite elaborate. One was, not to "import 
any slaves or purchase any imported after the fifth day of November next, until the 
said acts of Parliament are repealed." They were drawn up by George Mason, and 
sent by him in a noble letter to Washington. Sparks' s Writings of Washington, 
ii. 356. 

2 Timothy Ruggles, Feb. 29, 1768, "Reasons for not voting for Resolves in 
Massachusetts Assembly. ' ' 

3 The "Boston Gazette," Oct. 9, 1769, had an extract from a letter written in 
New York, which says: " It is currently reported here that all intercourse with Rhode 
Island is nearly shut up, as if the plague was there, as we will neither sell to them or 
ship them any goods, nor receive any from thence, nor suffer them to sell any in this 
province." It was stated in the newspapers in Februar}', 1770, that the merchants 
at Philadelphia and New York h:\d agreed to renew their trade with Rhode Island. 

4 The assemblies of Connecticut and New Jersey passed resolutions in October, 
1769, which are in the "Massachusetts Gazette," Nov. 2 and 9. 

6 Letter dated Dec. 15, 1769, in "Massachusetts Gazette," Feb. 1, 1770. 
" Thus are the colonies at last all happily united. It now remains for the patriots to 
improve this union to the best advantage," &c, 


patriotism not to use certain European articles of luxury, 
not to import slaves or to buy them of importers. It was 
patriotism to grow flax and wool, to spin and weave, to 
make clothes and wear them. Ingenuous youth received 
the honors of their Alma Mater, and legislators appeared 
in their halls, clothed in American apparel. The Daughters 
of Liberty vied with each other in their spinning-matches 
and homespun gowns. 1 Such attire was of more lustre than 
all the gems that sparkle in the mine, for it spoke fidelity to 
a just cause. The American saw in this harmony a proof 
that "all the colonies had the same ideas of liberty." The 
saying was current in London that industry and economy were 
universal in America, where the farmer strutted in home- 
spun and cast an indignant look at the meanness of soul 
that hoped for superior distinction by indulging in the manu- 
factures of a country that exulted in enslaving the colonies. 2 
The ministers postponed the design of altering the Amer- 
ican constitutions. Lord North, in April, 1770, based a 
motion for a partial repeal of the Townshend Revenue Act 
on the petition of the merchants of London, and urged the 
abolition of the duties on glass, paper, and painter's colors, 
on the ground that they were uncommercial, while he justi- 
fied the retention of the duty on tea as necessary to assert 
the supremacy of parliament. Such was the judgment of 
the king who held that " there must always be one tax to 

1 " Williamsburg, Ya., January 3, 1770. On Wednesday evening the honorable 
speaker and gentlemen of the House of Burgesses gave a ball at the capitol, for the 
entertainment of His Excellency, Lord Botetourt; and it is with the greatest pleas- 
ure we inform our readers that the same patriotic spirit which gave rise to the asso- 
ciation of gentlemen on a late event was most agreeably manifested in the dress of 
the ladies on that occasion, who, to the number of near one hundred, appeared in 
homespun gowns ; a lively and striking instance of their acquiescence and concur- 
rence in whatever may be the true and essential interest of their country. It were 
to be wished that all assemblies of American ladies would exhibit a like example of 
public virtue and private economy, so amiably united. 

"Not all the gems that sparkle in the mine 
Caoi make the fair with so much lustre shine." 

Massachusetts Gazette, Feb. 12, 1770. 

2 Piece in newspapers, under the head of "London, Aug. 16, 1769." 


keep up the right." * Hence the Act was repealed (April 
12, 1770) only in part. The Declaratory Act, asserting the 
right to legislate for the colonies in all cases whatsoever, 
and the tax on tea, remained on the statute book. 

The popular leaders regarded this partial repeal as insid- 
ious and unsatisfactory, settling nothing and boding evil. 
They urged a rigid adherence to the non-importation agree- 
ment as the most effectual method to obtain a redress of 
grievances. Above all, they commended union as absolutely 
essential to the salvation of America. 

The attempt of the ministry to check the republican ele- 
ment, to abridge English liberties in America, had the 
effect to throw the colonists back on themselves ; to move 
them to reflect on the scope and tendency of the ideas they 
had applied, on the institutions they had reared and the posi- 
tion they had attained ; and to reveal the fact that there were 
marked differences on fundamentals between the views held 
by the statesmen in England and in America. A striking 
illustration of this fact is seen in the view taken of ordinary 
legislation. The ministry were united on the point that 
when an act was passed in parliament and approved, it 
became a part of the Constitution ; 2 while in America it was 
reasoned that unless some power existed in a free State 
superior to the House of Commons, and which no power 
could destroy, the idea of a constitution was a nullity ; 3 and 
the power specified was the law embodied in Magna Charta, 
the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Settlement. This reason- 
ing familiarized the American mind with the thought that 
public liberty required the establishment of a body of organic 
law, which should be the rule of action of the agents chosen 
periodically to administer the affairs of government ; and it 
shews the progress that was going on in political science. 

1 King to Lord North, in Bancroft, vi. 277. 

2 De Berdt, Aug. 29, 1768 (Bradford's State Papers, 162), says the whole min- 
istry -were united on this point. 

8 Piece in the newspapers, 1769. 



This veneration for the free principles of the British Con- 
stitution was accompanied with the warmest expressions of 
loyalty to the crown. The popular leaders, so far from desir- 
ing to divide the empire, averred that they could not justly 
be suspected of the most distant thought of independency, 
would refuse it if it were offered to them, and would deem it 
the greatest misfortune to be obliged to accept it. 1 There is 
no valid ground on which to question their sincerity in these 
declarations. They knew that they did not deal with the 
question of sovereignty, and did not mean that their oppo- 
nents should force them to do it. Their loyalty, however, did 
not imply passive submission to the arbitrary commands of 
the king, nor did their respect for the Constitution imply 
acquiescence in the decisions of administrative majorities 
when they violated fundamental rights. The treatment of 
the free assemblies, the proposed transportation of Ameri- 
cans, in direct violation of trial by jury, were viewed as the 
illegal acts and purposes of the party in power ; and were 
resisted with the spirit of freemen. 

Propositions continued to appear for a union of the colo- 
nies. Pownal reasoned that the train of events must estab- 
lish either a British or an American union ; and he argued 
that it was not more necessary to preserve the several gov- 
ernments subordinate in their several spheres than it was 
essential to the preservation of the whole empire to keep them 
disconnected and independent of each other. 2 A plan termed 
" a new model" found favor with the New- York politicians ; 

1 Letter of Massachusetts assembly, Jan. 12,1768, in "Bradford's State Papers," 
124, 143. The "Boston Post Boy" of May 1, 1769, has the Petition of the New 
York General Assembly to the Lords spiritual and temporal in Parliament assem- 
bled, signed Phillip Livingston, speaker, which has the following: "If disloyalty 
to the crown, want of affection to Great Britain, or a desire of independency, had 
the least influence upon our minds, no words could sufficiently express our ingrati- 
tude and our folly. But, my Lords, we are neither so foolish nor ungrateful. We 
can appeal to the omniscient Searcher of hearts, for the most inviolable fidelity to His 
Majesty, an utter abhorrence of a disunion with Great Britain, and a cheerful sub- 
mission to her supremacy, in every instance of authority essential to the common 
safety of the empire." 

2 Pownal' s Administration of the Colonies, 4th ed., 1768. 


and the assembly of that province invited each colony to 
elect representatives clothed with power to meet and legis- 
late for the whole. The House of Burgesses responded to 
this suggestion by choosing delegates to such a body. 1 It 
did not, however, meet with general favor. Secretary Oliver 
broached the plan in Massachusetts ; but Dr. Cooper wrote 
that the body of the people were for the old establishments, 
under which they had grown and flourished, and viewed the 
project as calculated to create a condition like Ireland. 2 

A union movement by the Presbyterians was regarded by 
the Tories as of great importance. It was held by the crown 
lawyers that the supremacy of the crown in ecclesiastical 
affairs extended to the colonies, and that it Was not lawful 
for the clergy to assemble, as in a synod, without a royal 
license ; 3 and since the movement of 1725 there had been 
none called. 4 On the breaking out of the present troubles, 
several Presbyterians of Philadelphia, in a circular, stated 
that, though numerous, yet they were considered as nobody, 
or of very little weight or consequence; and submitted a 
plan whereby they might act as one body whenever they 
might be called upon to defend the civil and religious 
liberties and privileges they enjoyed, or to obtain any 
of which they might be abridged. The immediate result of 
this movement was a union between the congregations of 
Pennsylvania and Delaware, which extended through the 
southern provinces; so that in Philadelphia, in 1765, an 
annual synod began its session without a royal license. 
" Men of sense and foresight," alarmed at so formidable a 
confederacy, brought about by letters "buried in studied 
secrecy," obtained possession of these letters ; and in 1769 
they were printed in New York, when they elicited sharp dis- 
cussion. A Tory review of the rise of the Revolution gives 

1 Bancroft, vi. 316. 

2 Samuel Cooper to Governor Pownal, Jan. 1, 1770. 
8 Chalmers's Opinions of Eminent Lawyers, 50. 

4 See above, p. 121. 


this movement the honor of being the mainspring of the 
opposition to the government. 1 

At this period, the prophecies concerning the future of 
America multiplied. Thomas Hutchinson wrote that the 
natural increase of population was so great, it was probable in 
a few generations a mighty empire would be formed on this 
continent. 2 The consequences that might grow out of such an 
empire, with continued union with Great Britain, were glow- 
ingly dwelt upon. " Never," William Livingston wrote, " was 
there such a Phoenix state. Liberty, religion, and science 
were on their wing to these shores. The finger of God 
pointed to a mighty empire. The mother and her sons 
would again be' collected in one house, and in proportion to 
the abatement of national glory in Europe would be the 
brightness of its resurrection in America. The day dawns 
in which the foundation of this mighty empire is to be laid 
by the establishment of a regular American Constitution. 
All that hitherto has been done seems to be little beside the 
collection of materials for the construction of this glorious 
fabric. 'Tis time to put them together. The transfer of 
the European part of the great family is so swift, and our 
growth so fast, that before seven years roll over our heads 
the first stone must be laid." 3 Here a union and constitution 

1 The "Pennsylvania Chronicle" of Sept. 25, 1769, has the Circular Letter, 
dated Philadelphia, March 24, 1764, and the "Plan or Articles," copied from the 
" New-York Journal," Sept. 14, 1769. Both were printed by Galloway in his "His- 
torical and Political Reflections," London, 1780. He says that the Presbyterians 
throughout the colonies, after 1725, aimed to unite their churches: "To form these 
into one religious as well as one political body, was, therefore, the first measure pur- 
sued by this congregated faction, after they found themselves freed from the embar- 
rassments and dangers of Indian and French incursions," p. 48. 

2 Preface to the Collections, 1768. 

8 "The American Whig, No V.," in "New-York Gazette," April 11, 1768, a 
series of papers attributed to William Livingston. They, with the replies they 
elicited, were published in a volume. The words in the text are from pp. 57, 58. 
The volume is entitled "A Collection of Tracts from the late Newspapers," &c., con- 
taining "The American Whig," "A Whip for the American Whig," with some 
other pieces on the subject of the residence of Protestant Bishops in the American 
colonies, and in answer to the writers who opposed it, &c. New York : 1768. In 
one of the Tracts, a Son of Liberty remarks that the public mind was concerned to 


were foreshadowed that were to be in harmony with alle- 
giance to the crown. 

The progress of events, however, suggested more accurate 
prophecy. Samuel Adams said that he desired the union with 
Great Britain to continue ; yet he reasoned that in the natural 
course of things the policy of the ministry must alienate 
the affections of the colonies from the mother-country, 
and he speculated on the consequences that might ensue 
from American independence. French agents one was 
Baron De Kalb sent over to watch the progress of events 
observed the cold indifference with which Canada and its 
dependencies viewed the efforts of the patriots, and reported 
that they were the only parts of English America that were 
perfectly quiet ; l but they were so impressed with the aspect 
of other parts, they wrote home that, unless the mother- 
country desisted from her course, the independence of the 
colonies was certain to take place. 2 The French ambassador 
in London held frequent interviews with Franklin. Illus- 
trious Frenchmen now uttered remarkable prophecies. Du- 
rand, the minister at London, felt assured that the colonies 
would soon form a separate State. 3 Chatelet, his successor, 
witnessing the determined stand of the king and the ministry, 
predicted that the day of separation was not far off, and that 
it must necessarily have the greatest influence on the whole 
political system of Europe. 4 Turgot saw with joy the pros- 
pect of an event which, more than all the books of philoso- 
phers, would dissipate the sanguinary phantom of commer- 
cial monopoly, separate all America from Europe, and make 
its discovery truly useful to mankind. 5 Choiseul, the pre- 

know "whether we are a nation of generous freemen or of despicable slaves." p. 48. 
Another gives the following statistics: "In all New England there are but eleven 
Presbyterian congregations; whilst there are thirty Quaker churches, thirty-nine 
Anabaptists, about fifty Separatist churches, about eighty congregations of the 
Church of England, and five hundred and eighty-six Congregational meetings." 
p. 430. 

1 De Witt's Jefferson and the American Democracy, 379. 

2 Ibid., 382. De Kalb, in a letter dated Jan. 15, 1768. 

Cited in Bancroft, vi. 169. 4 Ibid., 245. 5 Ibid., 370. 


mier, sagaciously interpreting the signs of the times, planned 
a treaty of commerce to offer America, with the view of 
hastening this result. 1 

The movement elicited by the Townshend Revenue Acts 
resulted in a settled public opinion and conviction by a free 
people, as to the nature and value of their rights. This was 
embodied in the utterances of public bodies and the press. 
Many were circulated in the journals and in pamphlets in 
England, and the ability they evinced elicited high praise. 
It was said to be a common remark in London that " they 
were written in a style not to be equalled in any part of the 
British dominions." 2 Many were translated and circulated on 
the continent. " All Europe," Franklin wrote, " is attentive 
to the dispute between Britain and the colonies : our part is 
taken everywhere." 3 Generous tributes from abroad flowed 
in upon the patriots. A London letter reads: "Your late 
conduct is noble indeed : every ray is splendid with asserted 
right and vindicated freedom." 4 Another wrote : " The 
whole Christian world owe you much thanks. The star ris- 
ing out of your wilderness will become a great luminary and 
enlighten the whole earth." 5 A Paris letter, urging a con- 
tinuance of the "noble struggle for liberty," runs: "I 
imagine I see illustrious statesmen, eloquent orators, wise 
historians, and learned philosophers rising up among you, 

1 Bancroft, vi. 169. 

2 London letter, Jan. 19, 1769, in the newspapers. 

3 Franklin's Works, vii. 470. Letter, April 14, 1770. 

4 Massachusetts Gazette, Oct. 19, 1769. Letter from London, Aug. 3. 

5 A letter dated London, July 23, 1770, printed in the " Boston Evening Post" 
of Sept. 17, 1770, says : 

" The voluntary recess of your virtuous and brave ancestors from the scenes of tyr- 
anny and corruption which the reign of the Stuarts had spread over this kingdom, 
and the colonies and churches which they established on your continent upon the more 
glorious principles of catholic Christianity, I cannot but consider as a most important 
event, by which very happy fruits, which are now (though amidst heavy storms) ripen- 
ing for the signal benefit of the whole Christian Church. For that noble stand you 
have made in the cause both of civil and religious liberty, the whole Christian world 
owe you much thanks. The star rising out of your wilderness will, I trust and pray, 
become a great luminary and enlighten the whole earth. May your patience and fidel- 
ity continue steadfast to the end." 


whose generous souls have espoused the interests of human- 
ity, and are spreading the blessings of liberty throughout 
the world around them." 1 These praises, circulated by the 
press, might be read in every home in America. They could 
hardly fail to strengthen the conviction of the patriots that 
their stand for liberty and law was appreciated, that it 
would be approved by the wise and good, and that they 
would be justified in maintaining it at every cost. 

In the tribute just cited, it is said that the patriots had em- 
braced the cause of humanity. It is averred that the word 
mankind, to signify brotherhood, never passed the lips of 
Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle; 2 and that the idea of human 
equality was thoroughly ignored by society in the pagan 
world. 3 But the word and the idea were in common use in 
speaking of the movement germinating in America. The 
earliest utterances of the patriots are inspired by the thought 
that Providence had set them to defend the rights and liber- 
ties of mankind ; 4 and in their proud day of triumph they 
said, Let it be remembered that it has ever been the pride and 
boast of America that the rights for which she contended 
were the rights of human nature. 5 Their noble array of 
utterances warrant the remark that they viewed " mankind 
toiling and suffering, separated by oceans, divided by lan- 
guage, and severed by national enmity, yet evermore tending 
under a divine control towards the fulfilment of that inscru- 
table purpose for which the world was created, and man 
placed in it, bearing the image of God." 6 Native gifts de- 
veloped in labors in behalf of such a cause. Men thus grew 
in stature ; each colony had its roll of honor, and said and 
did things that made a mark on the age. One great name, 

1 Letter from Paris, in "Massachusetts Gazette," Aug. 27, 1770. 
* Max Muller's Chips from a German Workshop, ii. 5. 
Above, p. 6. 

4 This was the language of the Boston press before the Stamp Act. Life and 
Times of Warren, 35. 

5 Address of Congress, April 26, 1783, drawn by Madison. 
8 Max Miiller, Chips, &c., ii. 5. 


in particular, was gathering lustre. Washington was active 
on the political stage, destined soon to be 

" Among the sons 

Of fame well known, bright as the morning star 
Among the lesser lights ; a patriot skilled 
In all the glorious arts of peace and war." ! 

1 "Rising Glory of America," spoken at the commencement of the college in 
New Jersey, Sept. 25, 1771; in "General Advertiser," London, Feb. 14, 1778, the 
following is an extract from this poem : 

" The mind prophetic grows, and pierces far 
Through ages yet unborn. We saw the states 
And mighty empires of the East arise, 
In swift succession from the Assyrian 
To Macedon and Rome ; to Britain thence 
Dominion drove her car. She stretched her reign 
O'er many isles, wide seas, and peopled lands. 
Now, in the West, a continent appears ; 
A newer world now opens to her view ; 
She hastens onward to the Americ shores, 
And bids a scene of recent wonders rise : 
New states, new empires, and a race of men 
High raised in glory ; cities and people 
Numerous as sand upon the ocean shore. 
Th' Ohio then shall glide by many a town 
Of note ; and where the Mississippi stream, 
By forests shaded, now runs weeping on, 
Nations shall grow, and states not less in fame 
Than Greece and Rome of old: we too shall boast 
Our Alexanders, Pompeys, heroes 
That in the womb of time yet dormant lie, 
Waiting the joyful hour for life and light." 

In the copy in the "Advertiser" of 1778, Washington's name occurs in the cita- 
tion in the text, but does not occur in the original printed in Philadelphia in 1772. 
It was written by Phillip Freneau, and the title-page of the pamphlet of 1772 has 
Seneca's "venient arm's." 



MARCH, 1770, TO AUGUST, 1773. 

THE patriots, in dealing with the Stamp Act and the 
Townshend Revenue Acts, developed elements of union, 
which had gathered strength beneath the diversity that 
characterized the colonial age ; and thirteen communities 
embodied in their varied action common convictions on polit- 
ical ideas, and so were prepared for a general organization. 
When the ministry attempted to carry out their policy by 
arbitrary Royal Instructions, the patriots formed commit- 
tees of correspondence, and thus organized the party which 
achieved the American Revolution. 

The successive British administrations, since the beginning 
of the controversy of the colonies with the mother-country, 
had been composed of members of several parties ; but at 
length the Tory party attained power, as it ruled England, 
with brief intervals, for half a century. 1 It was imbued 
with low views of human nature, high-toned principles of 
government, unsound doctrines of political economy, and a 
disposition to stretch the prerogative and to gratify the pride 
of dominion. Out of its ranks George III. formed a cabinet 
" to deal with Wilkes and America." The premier, Lord 
North, about forty years of age, was a scholar of elegant 
taste, of eminent ability as a debater, and had administra- 
tive talents which qualified him for his place. He voted 
for the Stamp Act and against its repeal, and was the 

1 Earl Russell's Essay on the English Government. Introduction, Ed. 1865. 


first to move the expulsion of Wilkes. One of his sayings 
then circulated in the press was, that he never could ac- 
quiesce in the absurd opinion that all men were equal; 
another, that the question between England and her colonies 
was no less than sovereignty on the one side and independ- 
ence on the other, 1 when simple justice by England might 
have adjourned, at least for years, all thought of inde- 

The Tory party, in partially repealing the Townshend 
Revenue Acts, only paused in the execution of the Bute 
policy. It was fully embodied in the Declaratory Act of 
1766, that the king's majesty, with the advice of parlia- 
ment, had, and of right ought to have, full power to make 
laws of sufficient validity to bind the people of America in 
all cases whatever, "a resolution," Lord Chatham said, 
" for England's right to do what the Treasury pleased with 
three millions of freemen." 2 It was also embodied in the tax 
on tea retained to keep up the right. The party, and indeed 
Englishmen generally, looked upon Americans as inferiors, 
whom England had the right to rule, and use for her benefit ; 
and to question this was to insult the sovereignty. 3 The 
Secretary for the colonies was the Earl of Hillsborough. He 
said in debate, as to the past, that " it had been the object 
of every administration since the reign of Charles II. to 
endeavor to establish a civil list in America independent of 
the assemblies ; " and he frankly declared, as to the future, 
that "a republican spirit prevailed through the colonies, 
which every administration must discourage." 4 It might 

1 Lord North's speech, in "Massachusetts Gazette," Oct. 22, 1770. 

2 Chatham's Correspondence, ii. 365. 

8 "Every Englishman considers himself as king of America, and peculiarly 
interested in our subjection." Boston Gazette, Sept. 17, 1770. Lord Chatham 
said that Americans must be made to obey the laws of England. "If you do not 
make laws for them, let me tell you, my Lords, they do, they will, they must make 
laws for you." Sparks' s Franklin, vii. 468. Franklin said : " Every man in Eng- 
land . . . seems to jostle himself into the throne with the king, and talks of our 
subjects in America." 

4 The " Massachusetts Gazette" of Sept. 3, 1776, has a report of Hillsborough' s 
speech in parliament, delivered May, 1770. 


have been wise to have simply aimed to render the imperial 
authority independent in its proper sphere, while leaving the 
local authorities free to act in their spheres, just as the 
officers of the United States are independent of the State 
and municipal authorities ; but the object of putting the civil 
list on a new basis, arrogantly avowed from ministerial 
benches, and steadily pursued by the men in power, was to 
repress the republican spirit, by shaping the local govern- 
ments according to English ideas. Thus the minister 
aimed to impose a polity on a people, instead of recognizing 
and protecting the polity developed by them, and which was 
a natural outgrowth. Such a purpose was war on their dearly 
prized local self-government ; and it was prosecuted in the 
same spirit of persecution of the liberal element in America 
which characterized the course of the party in England. It 
was as suicidal a policy as it would be for an American ad- 
ministration to aim at impairing the municipal liberties, 
which are perennial fountains of a noble public life. On 
this object the vigilant eye of patriotism kept steadily fixed. 
The ministers, in carrying out this policy, now resorted 
to an extraordinary use of Royal Instructions, which, for 
three years, played an important part in American politics. 
A rule of action, to meet a current question in England, 
was concisely stated in the following terms : " The law is 
above the king ; and the crown, as well as the subject, is 
bound by it as much during the recess as in the session of 
parliament ; because no point of time nor emergent circum- 
stance can alter the Constitution, or create a right not ante- 
cedently inherent. These only draw forth into action the 
power that before existed, but was quiescent. There is no 
such prerogative in any hour or moment of time as vests 
the semblance of legislative power in the crown." l This 

1 See the remarkable speech in "Parliamentary History," vol. xvi. p. 259. 
Franklin, Jan. 13, 1772, relates a conversation he had several years before with Lord 
Granville, who said that the king's instructions, when received by the governors, 
were the laws of the land ; "for the king is the legislator of the colonies." Sparks's 
Works of Franklin, vii. 550. 


doctrine seems to have been accepted by the American 
Whigs ; for their utterances are imbued with the sentiment 
inculcated by the school of Locke, that the freedom of a 
people under government is to have standing rules to live 
by, so that the government may be one of laws, and not of 

"Without much regard to this rule, or indeed to any law, 
the ministers, after the repeal of the Townshend Acts, 
issued to the governors a series of extraordinary instruc- 
tions. They came under the king's sign manual, with the 
privy seal annexed. It was said that officials could not 
refuse to execute them without giving up the rights of the 
crown. 1 A set was not framed to apply to all the colonies 
alike, but special instructions were sent to each colony as 
local circumstances dictated. Hence the patriots could not 
create a general issue on them. They have been termed a 
new set of measures determined on to prevent American 
Independence. The first instruction was adopted in the 
Privy Council on the 6th of July, 1770. 2 This may be 
fixed on as the time when Royal Instructions began their 

In framing these instructions, little, if any, regard was 
paid to customs, forms, and prejudices in the colonies as old 
as their existence, which had become unwritten law, and 
were therefore, at least, worthy of consideration. The first 
instruction sent to Massachusetts ordered Castle William 
to be garrisoned by the king's troops, when the charter ol 
the colony expressly provided that it should be garrisoned 

1 The Censor, Dec. 22, 1771, p. 18. This was a periodical to which Lieutenant 
Governor Oliver, Thomas Greenleaf, and other loyalists, contributed ; published by 
E. Russell, Boston. The first number is dated Nov. 23, 1771, and the last May 2, 
1772. It defended the policy of the ministers. 

2 Bancroft (vi. 369) states that this order to garrison Castle William was the 
beginning of "the system of measures to prevent American Independence." The 
same order directed that His Majesty's ships should rendezvous in the harbor of 
Boston. It was said by this act "ministers had declared war against Boston." 
Lord Chatham termed the intelligence sent to him "a most melancholy piece of 
information." Chatham's Correspondence, iii. 468. The execution of the order 
caused great excitement. 


by the provincial militia. The instructions required the dis- 
solution of assemblies ; their removal to unusual places of 
meeting, as in South Carolina to Beaufort, 1 and in Massa- 
chusetts to Cambridge ; negatived arbitrarily the choice of 
speakers ; provided for the maintenance of local officers : 
and thus entirely ignored the local legislation for the sup- 
port of government, and even directed the executive to 
refuse his assent to tax-bills because they taxed the officers 
of government. 2 Similar in effect was an extraordinary 
use of the prerogative ; as in Maryland, where the governor 
assumed by proclamation to revive a law regulating fees of 
officers which had expired by limitation, in this way asserting 
the right to levy taxes ; as in North Carolina, where royal 
officials assessed enormous fees, and imprisoned the citizens 
on slight evidence or none at all. In Rhode Island, the 
commander of the British schooner " Gaspee " made a gen- 
eral seizure of the vessels engaged in trade in Newport 
Harbor, and committed other outrages. Royal Instructions 
required the colonies to desist from their opposition to the 
slave-trade. The ministry seemed bent on giving full force 
to the Declaratory Act, and governing the colonies in all 
cases whatever ; and their arbitrary practices grated harshly 
on a people habituated to the ways of freedom. 

These practices were manfully, and in general successfully, 
met. In some cases they provoked deeds of violence. The 
rapine and extortion practised in North Carolina drove an 
oppressed people to insurrection, and hence the war of the 
Regulators. 3 The insolence of the commander of the 

1 A writer in the "South Carolina Gazette" of Sept. 15, 1772, says: "There 
has been no assembly to do business for a long time. The last was called, and after 
sitting three or four days was abruptly dissolved. Now another is called at Beaufort, 
upwards of seventy miles from the capital, at a place where no assembly ever sat 

2 The "Boston Gazette" of July 8, 1771, has this instruction, called the 27th: 
"It is our will and pleasure that you do not for the future, upon any pretext, give 
your consent to any law or laws" by which these officers were taxed. 

8 The "Boston Evening Post" of Nov. 12, 1770, has an account of the Regu- 


" Gaspee," in Rhode Island, led to an enterprise that 
effected her destruction. The Executive Proclamation, in 
Maryland, divided the colony into two parties, which con- 
tinued their struggle down to the Revolution ; and in opposi- 
tion to it were Charles Carroll, Thomas Johnson, William 
Paca, and Samuel Chase. 1 In Georgia the rejection of the 
speaker was regarded by the assembly a breach of the 
privileges of the House, and as tending to subvert the most 
valuable rights and liberties of the people. 2 The infamous 
instruction on the slave-trade elicited a remarkable petition 
from the Virginia Burgesses to the king, in which that com- 
merce was represented as inhuman ; and it was urged that 
unless it were checked it would endanger the very existence 
of His Majesty's American dominions. 3 In brief, the claim 
that the king's instructions had the force of law, or that 
the people were under a personal government, was every- 
where contested. Its nature and tendency were exposed in 
papers issued by public meetings, by general assemblies, 4 and 
the press, often marked by keen analysis and strong reason- 
ing. Indeed, the vein of Americanism was so wide and deep, 
that, outside of official circles, these instructions had scarcely 
more than quasi-defenders. For even the Tories would con- 

1 McMahon's Maryland, 380. The Proclamation was issued May 26, 1770. 
From this date to the Revolution, other subjects gave way to this engrossing topic. 

2 The commons elected Noble Wimberly Jones three times their speaker unani- 
mously, and the choice was three times negatived, when he declined. Archibald 
Bullock Avas then chosen, and the record made that he was elected only because 
Jones declined. The Governor said: "If this record is to stand on your journals, I 
have no choice but to dissolve the assembly." The House replied: "Our third 
choice of Noble Wimberly Jones, Esq., as our speaker, was not in the least meant 
as disrespectful to His Majesty, or you as his representative, nor thereby did we 
mean to infringe on the just prerogative of the crown." "Massachusetts Gazette," 
June 11, 1772, has the documents at length. 

s The "Massachusetts Gazette," Oct. 8, 1772, has the address of the House of 
Burgesses to the king on the slave-trade. They pray for the removal of those 
restraints on His Majesty's governors which inhibit their assenting to such laws as 
might check so pernicious a commerce. 

4 The Massachusetts House of Representatives, June 19, 1771, protested "against 
all such doctrines, principles, and practices as tend to establish either ministerial or 
even Royal Instructions as laws within the province. 1 ' Massachusetts Gazette, 
June 20, 1771. 


cede that the colonists might justly claim and expect as great 
a degree of legislation among themselves as would consist 
wtth the maintenance of the supremacy of parliament, and 
the general good of the whole ; l while the Whigs, conced- 
ing the supremacy of parliament in its sphere, held that 
the proper degree of legislation embraced all matters of 
a domestic nature, and especially taxation ; indeed, that 
the privileges of the commons or the assemblies, in their 
sphere, were, " to all intents and purposes, as full, express, 
and uncontrollable within the colony as those usually exer- 
cised by the commons of Great Britain within the realm," 2 
the legislation of the assemblies and the parliament being 
alike subject to the revision of the king. In these assem- 
blies the people, composing the political unit called the 
province and the commonwealth, 3 made the laws, and 
moulded their polity; and when instructions, set forth as 
rights of the crown, were used to levy moneys, support gov- 
ernment, and administer justice, it was natural that they 
should have been looked upon as war on the old self-govern- 
ment. It was said in Virginia that " the ministry had 
substituted discretion for law, and set the principles of the 
Constitution, which should be fixed and free, afloat upon 
the merciless and fluctuating sea of arbitrary will." 4 It was 
said in Massachusetts " that the king, by his mere will, 
had created a clandestine, capricious, and destructive mode, 
couched under the specious umbrage of Royal Instructions." 
It was said in Pennsylvania that the practice tended to set 
aside the assemblies. 5 " Not to oppose," Arthur Lee wrote, 

1 " Ghronus," a Tory writer, in " Massachusetts Gazette," Jan. 9, 1772. 

2 Boston Instructions, in "Boston Gazette," May 6, 1773. 

8 The use of the term " Commonwealth " (see p. 59) was early censured. Franklin 
writes, June 8, 1770 (Works, vii. 476): "The colonies originally were constituted 
distinct States." The places where the assemblies met were sometimes termed 
" State House." 

4 Life of Arthur Lee, i. 248. 

5 Among the able papers of this period is a letter sent by the committee of mer- 
chants of Philadelphia to the committee of London merchants. It averred : 

" That all Americans concurred in the sentiment that the prosperity of the colonies 
depended on their connection with Great Britain, and that there could not be a greater 


" this most pernicious system, would be crime ; to oppose it 
unsuccessfully, would be misfortune only." The colonial 
judgment on this insidious phase of centralization was as 
intelligent as it was just. 

Meantime word had gone through the colonies to adhere 
to the non-importation agreement, as the best means to pro- 
cure a repeal of the tax on tea, and a redress of grievances ; 
on the ground that this would distress the commerce of Eng- 
land and aid the opponents of the administration. Fidelity 
to this agreement came to be looked upon as vital to the 
salvation of the cause, in fact, as a test of patriotism. 
"Let us be united," a Philadelphia broadside runs: "the 
eyes of all Europe, nay, of the whole world, are fixed upon 
us." l In general, the patriots carried out the agreement in 
good faith ; but the Tories, and selfish men among the Whigs, 
would not respect it, when personal violence was used to 
compel its observance. Its enemies charged upon the 
patriots as a body the delinquencies really belonging to the 
few. It was alleged that Virginia and Massachusetts were 
growing rich at the expense of their neighbors. In this 
period of mistrust the merchants of the city of New York 
sent out a Circular to the principal commercial places, pro- 
posing to confine the agreement of non-importation to the 
single article of tea, and that trade should be free in all 
other articles. The proposition fell upon the patriots like 
the news of some public calamity. It created a panic. 2 

deviation from truth than to represent the colonies as concerting a plan of resistance to 
the government. But they also averred that Americans had ' anxious fears for the 
existence of their assemblies, which they considered their last and only bulwark against 
arbitrary power. For if, say they, laws can be made, money levied, government sup- 
ported, and justice administered, without the intervention of assemblies, of what use 
can they be ? And being useless and unessential, is there not reason to fear they will 
quickly become disagreeable and then be wholly laid aside? And when that happens, 
what security have we for freedom, or what remains for the colonists but the most 
abject slavery? These are not the reasonings of politicians, but the sentiments and 
language of the people in general.' " 

See more of this admirable letter in Gordon, i. 268. 

1 Broadside issued in Philadelphia July 14, 1771. 

2 A letter from Connecticut says that the universal consternation which the late 
letter from New York gave the people of all ranks, was easier to be conceived than 


The excitement was general and intense. The proposal was 
met by indignant remonstrances. In Boston, at a meeting 
in Faneuil Hall, the New- York Circular was ordered to be 
torn in pieces and scattered to the winds, in token of abhor- 
rence. The students of Princeton College, James Madison 
being one, clothed in American cloth and arrayed in black 
gowns, gathered in the college yard; and, while the bell 
tolled, the New-York letter was committed to the flames. 1 
The New-Yorkers, however, carried their point, and were 
called " Revolters." The merchants of Charleston, in a noble 
letter, urged that unanimity was absolutely -necessary, and 
that the people of that province had bound themselves to the 
cause of American liberty, 2 and nowhere was the course of 
the Revolters more indignantly denounced. The merchants 
of Philadelphia, in a sorrowful and strong letter, averred 
that the New- York merchants had certainly weakened that 
union of the colonies on which their salvation depended, 
and, in a day of trial, had deserted the cause of their 
country. There was sterner action in other colonies. The: 
patriots of Charleston, S.C., voted, at a great meeting,, 
that, because the inhabitants of Georgia did not come 
into the agreement, they " ought to be amputated from 
the rest of the brethren as a rotten part that might spread 
a dangerous infection ; " 3 and, for the same offence, the 
patriots of Boston voted that they would not hold inter- 
expressed, nor to be conceived but by those who have been present at news of some 
public misfortune first spreading. Massachusetts Gazette, June 28, 1770. 

1 Rives's Life of Madison, i. 4. A broadside dated "Philadelphia State House, 
July 14, 1770," and signed "Pennsylvania," says: "The New-Yorkers have 
betrayed a meanness and cowardice in deserting us in the present important junc- 
ture, which wants a name. May infamy be their portion ! And may the names of 
a Bute, Grenville, a Bernard and a Yorker, hereafter be synonymous words." Arthur 
Lee, writing to Dr. T. Bland, London, Aug. 21, 1770, says: "I have hardly spirit 
to write, so severely do I feel the fatal news which has just reached us of the treach- 
ery of New York in basely deserting the common cause of liberty. Much am I 
afraid the evil will spread." Bland Papers, i. 28. 

2 This letter is in the "Massachusetts Gazette," May 24, 1770. 

3 Charles Pinckney was chairman of the meeting, which was described as numer- 
ous and respectable as ever gathered under Liberty Tree. Boston Evening Post, 
July 23, 1770. 



course with the merchants of New Hampshire, or with any 
who held intercourse with them. 1 The matter on this sub- 
ject is voluminous. The newspapers abound with relations 
of the proceedings of towns and counties, denouncing the 
violators of the agreement ; and of the merchants of Phila- 
delphia, Boston, and Charleston, and of other places, decree- 
ing non-intercourse with New York. , Words were followed 
by blows ; and the vessels from New York, New Hampshire, 
and Rhode Island, were driven from the ports of Boston, 
Charleston, Philadelphia, and other places. 2 Besides this 
wholesale anathema and crimination, there were bitter feuds 
between several colonies about local jurisdiction. New 
Hampshire and New York were contending for the territory 
now Vermont ; and Connecticut and Pennsylvania were 
fighting at Wyoming. 3 Thus the American cause was in the 

1 Massachusetts Gazette, June 28, 1770. The committees on imports and ex- 
ports were directed to keep the strictest look-out that no sort of goods came in from 
or went out to any part of New Hampshire. In the "Massachusetts Gazette," June 
4, 1770, is the following: "The merchants, &c., of Philadelphia, have come into 
Resolutions not to have any dealings with the colony of Rhode Island for breaking 
through their non-importation agreement. Captain Whitman, lately arrived at 
Philadelphia from Newport, was not suffered to land his cargo, but was obliged to 
turn back again." 

2 The newspapers of July, 1770, contain many items showing the bitterness that 
prevailed between the colonies. The following are from the ' ' Massachusetts 
Gazette" of July 5: 

" Captain Smith has returned to Providence with his cargo from Philadelphia. He 
was obliged to leave Philadelphia." 

" The freeholders, merchants, and traders of New Brunswick, in New Jersey, have 
come into resolves to operate with the other colonies with respect to non-importation, 
and to have no commerce with Rhode Island." 

" An account is given of the proceedings of ' persons ' residing in the principal trad- 
ing towns on Connecticut River, who decreed non-intercourse with Portsmouth, 
N. H." 

" A long relation of the doings of the Committee of Inspection of Windham, Conn., 
and the sending goods back to Providence, the merchants of which, it is said, had 
'basely betrayed their trust, and sold their birthright privileges for a mess of 
pottage.' " 

s " Wyoming, Aug. 1, 1771. Last Tuesday, about break of day, I arrived at this 
place with thirty-one men and provisions, and was attacked by the Connecticut 
party. . . . We were surrounded by their fire. . . . Got in with twenty-two of 
our men. Nine are missing. They have kept up an almost continuous fire on our 
block-house ever since, from four intrenchments ; but we are determined to hold out 
to the last extremity." Massachusetts Gazette, Aug. 19, 1771. 

"We hear from Albany that another expedition, like that formerly carried on 


presence of varied internal strife. It was feared by the 
patriots that two evils would be likely to grow out of this 
confusion and bloodshed, that might prove irremediable, 
loss of character in England, and the destruction of that 
confidence at home that was essential to success. 1 It was 
exultingly said by the Tories, who rejoiced at the dissension 
and weakness, that the union was well broken, 2 and that it 
would require a miracle to restore it. It is wonderful that 
men now living saw this spectacle, were born when the 
thirteen colonies seemed destined to reproduce only the petty 
autonomy of ancient Greece, and to suffer as the penalty 
border wars, chronic impotence, or subjection to foreign 

The non-importation agreement was broken, to the infinite 
joy of the Tories in America and in England. 3 Then no gen- 
eral issue remained to stir the colonies. The blood shed in 
Boston by British soldiers on the memorable Fifth of March, 
1770, produced a thrill of horror ; but there succeeded im- 
mediately the forced removal from the town of the obnox- 
ious troops, and the general exultations at the triumph of 
the patriots. In some of the colonies exciting local issues 
were created by the execution of arbitrary Royal Instructions ; 
but the desire was general to drop the controversy with the 
mother-country. 4 Even in Massachusetts, though there 

against Noble-Town, is proceeding against Bennington. More of the salubrious 
effects of the extensive wisdom and goodness of a righteous administration, who 
first intrusted Governor Wentworth to grant those lands for speedy settlement; then 
turned right about, and countenanced the monopolizing grandees of New York." 
Boston Gazette, July 29, 1771. The " Massachusetts Gazette " of May 7, 1772, has 
a relation of a raid of New-Yorkers on sundry towns granted by New Hampshire, to 
turn them out of their possessions, in which blood was shed. 

1 Letter of Arthur Lee. 

2 Hutchinson wrote June, 22, 1772: "The union of the colonies is pretty well 
broke. I hope I never shall see it renewed." 

8 John Adams writes (Works, ii. 364): "Mr. Reed told us, at dinner, that he 
never saw greater joy than he saw at London when the news arrived that the non- 
importation agreement was broke. They were universally shaking hands and con- 
gratulating each other." 

4 Ramsay (Hist. Am. Revolution, 70), says that " many hoped that the contention 
between the two countries was finally closed. In all the provinces, except Massa- 


were sharp contests between the assembly and the executive, 
and passionate appeals in the press, the people were averse 
to political agitation. This calmness was the basis of the 
opinion expressed in London, that the disputes with the 
government had subsided ; of the congratulations on the 
tranquillity of public affairs ; and of the boast of Lord 
Hillsborough, that America had returned to a due sense of 
her error in opposing his administration. 1 

The popular leaders, however, kept on exposing the 

chusetts, appearances seemed to favor that opinion." " Verus/' a Tory, addressing 
"The Free Electors of Massachusetts," in the "Massachusetts Gazette," May 15, 
1771, says of the popular leaders of Massachusetts: " They cannot bear the tranquil 
state of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and 
the other governments, except North Carolina, whose Regulators also, it is to be 
hoped, will soon be suppressed." 

A piece in the "Massachusetts Gazette " (Tory), Feb. 6, 1772, begins: 

" They that are in will grin, 
They that are out will pout." 

Inserti Auctaris. 

"The dispute between the kingdom and the colonies ceases everywhere except 
in this province. . . . Every other colony has made its peace. Some are seeking 
one favor, some another." Another piece in the same paper terms the patriots 
"Sons of Discontent and Rapine." 

The "Censor," No. 5, Dec. 21, 1771, republishes by request "An Eastern 
History," in two chapters; one containing forty-six verses, and the other thirty- 
four. It touches on things in Massachusetts from the beginning of the reign of 
George III. to the time of Hutchinson's appointment as governor. The twenty- 
sixth verse of chapter i. relates that certain sons of Belial, who had nor gold nor 
silver, asked themselves, "What can we lose? perad venture by our craft we may 
gain something." The twenty-eighth verse runs: "So Samuel the Publican 
(Adams), and William the Scribe (Cooper), and Will the Weaver (Molineaux), with 
others of the sons of Belial, set themselves to oppose Francis, the Governor, and 
Thomas, the Chief Judge, and drew much people after them ; and the land was dis- 
quieted." The thirty -first verse of chapter ii. says, after the repeal of the revenue 
acts, " the land had rest, save only in the province of Massachusetts; for there the 
sons of Belial yet continued to deceive the multitude." 

Samuel Adams, March 25, 1771, wrote to Arthur Lee, now in London: "If the 
people are at present hushed into silence, is it not a sort of sullen silence which is far 
from indicating your conclusion that the glorious spirit of liberty is vanquished, and 
left without hope but in miracles ? It is the effect of a mistaken prudence which 
springs from indolence," &c. 

1 Massachusetts Gazette, Feb. 10, 1772. Arthur Lee says, in a letter to Samuel 
Adams, April 7, 1772: " My Lord Hillsborough does not deserve from us a confirma- 
tion of his insolent boast, that America is quiet and returned to a due sense of her 
error in opposing his righteous and able government. And, upon the whole, why 
should we be less persevering in opposition than they are in oppression? " 


danger of admitting Royal Instructions to have the force 
of law, and earnestly urged renewed effort in behalf of 
American liberty. They never yielded to the fatal heresy 
of a personal government, or to the sweep of power covered 
by the Declaratory Act. They saw in the halcyon sky the 
cloud no bigger than a man's hand, which contained the 
thunderbolt of civil war ; and, in the storm which they pre- 
dicted, they could see shelter only in the fold of union. It 
is not easy to imagine how political insight could have been 
more penetrating as to causes, or foresight more accurate 
as to results. 

Among these leaders Samuel Adams was pre-eminent. He 
had been steadily rising in reputation in Massachusetts and 
abroad. There had been no decline in his zeal, no pause in 
his labor. He gave to the cause the whole of his time. A 
wide correspondence, voluminous writing in the press, 1 and 
masterly state papers attest his intelligence, industry, and 
influence. He was now directing public attention, through 
the press, to the theory and practice of the ministry. While 
he restated the old argument against the right of parlia- 
ment to tax, he closely examined the foundations of the 
claim of the ministers to govern by Royal Instructions. He 
had grasped the idea that the king, lords, and commons, 
as well as the colonies, were subject to the authority and 
bound by the limitations of constitutional law. In applying 
this idea, he did not appeal to what might quite as likely 
be human fancy or passion, or the political capital of arrant 
demagogues, as the State's collected will ; but he appealed 
to a supreme law which the nation had made, and which it 
was expected the temporary agents would ever respect and 
preserve : as the trial by jury, the habeas corpus, Magna 
Charta, expressions of the general reason, organic, and 
therefore inviolable. For illustration : when his opponents, 

1 " The General Court not being in session, the press sounded a loud alarm in the 
ears of the people. At no period of the world was its freedom of greater service to 
mankind." Wells, MSS. Life of Samuel Adams, i. 326. 


in controverting his position, urged that Magna Charta was 
but an act of . parliament, which 'kings, lords, and commons, 
as the sovereignty, might amend as they could any ordinary 
act, he would make the grand answer : 1 This view made 
Magna Charta of no greater consequence than a corporation 
of button-makers ; whereas Lord Coke held that it was 
declaratory of the principal grounds of the fundamental 
laws and liberties of England. 2 His appeal could hardly 
have been more forcible had there been established the 
American custom of a written constitution, which, to all, 
was a supreme law : even this, however, is of little value in 
the presence of a dead constitutional morality. The appeal 
of Samuel Adams was to such constitutional law as was 
grounded in the hearts of the nation, and which Americans 
loved and respected. While he emphatically denied that 
the just supremacy of parliament was questioned, specifying 
as an illustration the general concession of the right to regu- 
late the trade of the empire, and as earnestly disclaimed 
the intention of calling in question the sovereignty, specifying 
the facts attesting the loyalty to the crown, he contended 
for the preservation to each colony of its old right to make 
its laws of a domestic nature, and held that the people, as 
Americans, were members of one body, or of the nation ; 
and while they were bound to fight for the king, they were 
entitled to be recognized as co-equal sharers with the English 
people in English liberties. 

The aggressions on popular rights in Massachusetts re- 
quired continued service at his hands, in private consulta- 
tions, in public meetings, in the general assembly, and in 
preparing matter for the press ; and it is doing no injustice 
to others to say that he was the centre around which all the 
movements of the patriots turned. 3 Still his eye was ever 

1 " Chronus," a Tory writer, in "Massachusetts Gazette," Jan. 9, 1772. 

2 "Candidas" (S. Adams), in reply to "Chronus," in "Boston Gazette," 
Jan. 27, 1772. 

8 Life of John Adams (by C. F. Adams), 124. 


upon the whole American field. He urged that the cause 
of one colony was the cause of all the colonies, and that it 
was only through united councils that the continent could 
expect to maintain its rights. His great theme from the 
beginning of the controversy had been a union of the 
colonies. 1 In handling it, he was comprehensive in principle, 
method, and object, looking ever for the better time in the 
future. " Let us forget," he now wrote to the South-Caro- 
lina patriots, of the non-importation agreement, " there ever 
was so futile a combination, and awaken an attention to our 
first grand object, and shew that we are united in consti- 
tutional principles." 2 Union was his paramount thought. 
The need of it never seemed so great. The method he sug- 
gested was for the patriots in each town or county in every 
colony to hold legal meetings, and choose substantial citizens 
to act as committees of correspondence, with a view to 
secure concert of action ; and for the Massachusetts towns 
to adopt the measure, and then, through the assembly, to 
propose it to the other colonies in the hope that they would 
adopt it. 3 

1 Life of Samuel Adams (by W. V. Wells), ii. 9, who says: "There is scarcely 
any time, from 1764 to 1774 inclusive, in which we do not find him directing his 
countrymen to a unity of purpose and concert of action among the several prov- 
inces." Wells states (ii. 85) that the motions for committees of correspondence by 
the assembly of 1770 and 1771 were made by Adams. 

2 Adams wrote to Gadsden, Dec. 11, 1766: "I wish there were a union and a 
correspondence kept up among the merchants throughout the continent. ' ' Wells, 
i. 133. He wrote in the "Boston Gazette," Sept. 16, 1771, over the signature of 
" Candidus: " "I have often thought that, in this time of common distress, it would 
be the wisdom of the colonists more frequently to correspond with and to be more 
attentive to the particular circumstances of each other. . . . The colonies form one 
political body of which each is a member. . . . The liberties of the whole are in- 
vaded : it is therefore the interest of the whole to support each individual with all 
their weight and influence." 

3 Adams wrote to Arthur Lee, Nov. 30, 1772: "If our design succeeds, there 
will be an apparent union of sentiments among the people of this province, which 
may spread through the continent." Hutchinson had accurate information of every 
step of the union action of the patriots, though he misrepresented in stating that 
their aim was independence. In letters dated Jan. 7 and Feb. 18, 1773, he says 
that he had authentic information that it was part of the plan to invite every assem- 
bly on the continent to concur. He makes the same statement in " History of 
Massachusetts," iii. 368. 


The engine of committees was used in the contests of the 
parliamentarians with the Stuarts. 1 It was suggested very 
early in the controversy as a mode to promote union. 2 
Public meetings, towns and assemblies, had chosen them at 
various times, and some were in existence. 3 A line of 
remark on their value may be seen for years in private 
letters and the press ; but, owing perhaps to the vacillation 
of the ministry, and their adroitness in avoiding a general 
issue, nothing efficient had been done in the way of a gen- 
eral organization. Hence, while the Tory party, through 
the royal officials, could act as a unit, the Whigs were simply 
opposers of obnoxious measures, acting as local aggressions 
dictated ; and, though imbued with a common sentiment, were 
without the inspiration and power which belong to organic 
life. It was to remedy this defect that Samuel Adams now 
urged the formation of committees of correspondence to 
bring about a union, and thus won the fame of a statesman 
by embodying a great thought at the right time into a wise 

At this period Lord Hillsborough was succeeded at the 
head of the American department by Lord Dartmouth, who 
had the reputation of being an amiable and good man, and 
well disposed towards the colonies. Hopes were indulged 
that he might reverse the policy of his predecessor. But this 
policy had deeper roots than personal preferences : it grew 
out of feudal ideas ; and the new secretary was a disciple 
of the school which had these ideas for its platform. He 
looked with unfeigned distrust on the measure of popular 
power exercised by the colonists. He meant that they 
should be governed, though he meant to govern them well. 

1 Adolphus's History of England, ii. 24. Rushworth's Collections, Part IV., 
vol. i. 652. 

2 See above, p. 162. 

3 Samuel Adams, Nov. 21, 1770, acknowledges the receipt from a committee in 
Charleston, S C., of letters "for the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Connecticut, and 
New Hampshire," which he forwarded "as soon as possible to such gentlemen in 
the respective places worthy so excellent a character," which indicates that he did 
not know of any committees to send them to. 


He had a paternal desire to do for them, joined to a repug- 
nance to recognizing a polity which fostered the capacity to 
do for themselves. If he did not originate, he certainly did 
not hesitate to send out the worst Royal Instruction that 
was issued in the king's name. 

A great controversy was going on in Massachusetts, grow- 
ing out of the refusal of Governor Hutchinson to accept a com- 
pensation for his service from the legislature, and his accept- 
ing it from the imperial treasury, when Lord Hillsborough 
directed that the salaries of the judges and the subordinate 
officers of the courts should be provided for in a similar 
way ; and all doubts were removed as to the position of 
Lord Dartmouth, by his advising (August, 1772) the local 
officials that the king had the right to make such provision 
for the salaries of these officials. " The judges and sub- 
alterns," Josiah Quincy, Jr., now said in the press, "have 
got salaries from Great Britain. Is it possible the last 
movement should not move us and drive us, not to despera- 
tion, but to our duty ? The blind may see, the callous must 
feel, the spirited will act." l The towns, in line upon line, 
were urged to express their sentiments on this new violation 
of old customs in instructions to their representatives. " Let 
us," an appeal runs, " now unite like one band of brothers 
in the noblest cause, look to Heaven for assistance, and 
He who made us free will crown our labors with suc- 
cess." 2 

Samuel Adams selected this instruction as the occasion for 
rousing the patriots, for healing divisions, and for organiza- 
tion, by forming committees of correspondence, saying: 
" This country must shake off its intolerable burdens at all 
events : every day strengthens our Oppressors, and weakens 
us. If each town would declare its sense of these matters, 
I am persuaded our enemies would not have it in their power 

1 In Boston Gazette, Sept. 28, 1772. "The last vessels from England tell us that 
the Judges," &c. 

2 An American in "Boston Gazette," Nov. 2, 1772. 


to divide us. . . . I wish we could rouse the continent." 1 Such 
appeals, however, failed to renew the agitation. Town 
meetings were called in Boston to consider public affairs, 
but they were neither so large nor so enthusiastic as the 
meetings of previous years. Nor were the patriots agreed as 
to what the next step ought to be. This apathy and dis- 
union in the town was typical of the political situation in 
the colonies. A town meeting was called in Faneuil Hall, 
to consider the question of the salaries of the judges. It 
is not necessary here to give the voluminous details of the 
discussions and proceedings. On the second day of Novem- 
ber, 1772, it reassembled by adjournment ; and, although 
on that day the " Boston Gazette," with its seven columns 
of politics, was, in the glory of a free press, kindling a 
flame for a just cause, yet the meeting was not large. It 
was, however, respectable in number and in character, and 
continued through the day. In the afternoon, Samuel 
Adams moved " that a committee of correspondence be 
appointed, to consist of twenty-one persons, to state the 
rights of the colonies, and of this province in particular, as 
men, as Christians, and as subjects ; to communicate and 
publish the same to the several towns in this province and to 
the world, as the sense of this town, with the infringements 
and violations thereof that have been, or from time to time 
may be, made; also requesting of each town a free com- 
munication of their sentiments 011 this subject." Though 
this motion was opposed by some of the patriots, including 
three of the representatives to the General Court, on the 
ground that its failure might hurt the cause, yet it was 
adopted. This inaugurated the system of local committees 
of correspondence. They multiplied and widened under 
successive impulses, until they constituted the accredited 
organs of the party that founded the Republic of the United 
States. " They may be called," a contemporary wrote, 2 

1 Letter to Elbridge Gerry, Oct. 27 and 29, 1772. Life of Gerry, i. 12. 

2 Francis Dana to Elbridge Gerry, February, 1780. 


" the corner-stone of our revolution, or new empire." Hence 
the action of Boston proved the beginning of the first 
national party of the country. 1 

The committee was composed of citizens who had ren- 
dered service to the cause, and who coveted no other reward 
than to see their work prosper. 2 A few were of so much 
prominence as to entitle them to the position of leaders. 
Thomas Young, a physician, was zealous, wrote with 
force, spoke bold words in the public meeting ; but was so 
much of an extremist as to be a type of the Jacobins of 
that day, and subsequently, when living in Philadelphia, 
proved a rash counsellor. William Molineaux was foremost 
in popular outbreaks and patriotic processions ; a firm, relia- 
ble, efficient politician. Benjamin Church, a physician, had 
respectable talents, but was of uncertain politics, and prob- 
ably thus early was unfaithful to the cause. James Otis 
could still stir the public mind by his voice and pen ; but at 
times his noble intellect was shattered, and his day for sub- 
stantial service had passed. The records of the committee 
present Joseph Warren and Samuel Adams as the most 
relied on for maturing measures. Warren, now about 
thirty-three, had, for eight years, served the cause with 
great zeal and faithfulness. His standing among the Whigs 
is indicated by his selection as the orator on the celebration 
of the massacre in March, and the prominent part he bore 
in the local action of previous years. He grasped, as by 
intuition, fundamental ideas, and commended them with 
marked ability in the press and public meeting. He had 
genius, courage, and rare social gifts. His generous nature, 
unselfish service, genuine patriotism, and large love for his 
fellow-men, endowed him with the magic spell of influence 

1 Life and Times of Warren, 190. See above, p. 165. 

2 The Committee were : James Otis, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, Benjamin 
Church, William Dennie, William Greenleaf, Joseph Greenleaf, Thomas Young, 
William Powell, Nathaniel Appleton, Oliver Wendell, John Sweetser, Josiah Quincy, 
John Bradford, Richard Boynton, William Mackay, Nathaniel Barber, Caleb Davis, 
Alexander Hill, William Molineaux, Robert Pierpont. 


and the power there ever is in a noble character. He valued 
the American cause above his life, and was ready to peril 
his all in its behalf. He was the bosom friend of Samuel 
Adams. They thought alike on the political issues, worked 
in harmony in the spirit of self-sacrifice, and in friendship 
and patriotism were not unlike Hampden and Pym. After 
Warren fell at the Battle of Bunker Hill, no one rose to fill 
the place he occupied in the affection of Samuel Adams. 1 

The committee, at their first meeting, took an oath not to 
divulge their proceedings. They chose James Otis chairman ; 
and for secretary, William Cooper, the town clerk, eminent 
for his public and private virtues and long service. They 
were soon ready to present, in a town meeting (November 
20) called by the selectmen, an elaborate Report on the 
matters submitted to them. It consisted, first, of a state- 
ment of the rights of the colonists, prepared by Adams; 
second, of an enumeration of the violations of rights, drawn 
up by Warren ; third, of a brief letter of correspondence 
with the other towns, written by Church. 

The first part treats of " rights as men, as Christians, and 
as subjects." It specifies the right of man to life, liberty, 
and property ; to choose his country ; to worship God accord- 
ing to the dictates of his conscience ; to be taxed only by 
his representatives; to have justice administered under 
standing laws and by judges, independent, as far as possible, 
of prince or people ; to enjoy freedom as the gift of God 
Almighty. It also sets forth the rights of subjects born in 
the realm of England. It announces the equality of all men 
before the law, and it develops at length the idea that con- 
sent is the just basis of law. 

The second part enumerates the violations of these rights 
by Royal Instructions and acts of parliament, under ten 
heads. Among the specifications are the assumption of the 

1 Wells' s Life of Adams, iii. 122. Jefferson, in a letter dated July 4, 1775, 
names, of the killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill, "Dr. Warren, who seems to have 
been immensely valued at the North." 


right to tax the colonies without the consent of the people, 
and to legislate for them in all cases whatever; the inva- 
sion of trial by jury, by establishing courts of admiralty ; 
and acts prohibiting the manufacture of certain articles. 
These violations are presented with the remark that they 
could not fail " to attract the attention of all who consider 
themselves interested in the happiness and freedom of man- 
kind in general, and of this continent and province in 

The third part a brief letter addressed to the towns 
commends the matters presented in the Report as of such 
great and lasting moment as to involve the fate of all their 
posterity, and solicits a free communication of sentiment 
from each town. It closes with the suggestion that, if the 
towns concurred in the opinion that the rights of the colonists 
and the measures pointed out as subverting them were prop- 
erly stated, it would be doubtless thought of the utmost im- 
portance that all should stand as one man to recover and 
support them. 

This Report, after long deliberation, was adopted. Six 
hundred copies were ordered to be printed in a pamphlet, 
and a copy was directed to be sent to every town in the 
province. A copy was also sent to prominent Whigs in 
other colonies. 

This paper was the most radical exposition of rights and 
grievances the most systematic presentation of the Amer- 
ican cause that had been adopted by a public meeting. 
It covered well-nigh the whole ground of natural and con- 
stitutional rights. It gave to principles, which had been 
held as abstractions, a practical significance. It considered 
the relations of man not only as a citizen, but as a Christian, 
and claimed for him that equality which is the cardinal 
principle of Christianity. It claimed for him, under law, 
the position to which he is entitled, the right to make the 
laws under which he lives, to select his field of labor and 
enjoy its fruits, and thus claimed fair play for the industrial 


energy which has contributed so much to the growth and 
glory of the country. Its bold theory, incisive criticism, 
and solid reasoning were admirably calculated to strengthen 
and direct public opinion. 1 

The committee, as they sent out this Report, were not dis- 
heartened by the doubts of the Whigs nor the jeers of the 
Tories, by the spectacle presented in the colonies of ill- 
nature and disunion in some quarters, nor by the general 
apathy on the question with the mother-country. The great 
popular leader at their council board in Faneuil Hall, 
Samuel Adams, held the faith that the cause would make 
friends, and rise ; and he infused his spirit into those near 
him. His steps can be traced day by day. A warm patriot 
in Plymouth, James Warren, on getting the Report, wrote to 
Adams : " I shall not fail to exert myself to have as many 
towns as possible meet, but fear the bigger part of them will 
not. They are dead ; and the dead can't be raised without a 
miracle." 2 Adams was prompt to reply: " I am very sorry 
to find any thing in your letter that discovers the least 
approach towards despair. Nil desperandum. That is a 
motto for you and for me. All are not dead ; and where 
there is a spark of patriotic fire," we will rekindle it." 3 To 
another he wrote : " If our enemies should see the flame 
bursting in different parts of the country, and distant from 
each other, it might discourage their attempts to damp and 

1 Sparks (Works of Franklin, iv. 381) remarks that the Report was drawn up 
with as much ability as freedom. Hutchinson (History of Massachusetts, iii. 368) 
says that the whole frame of it was calculated to strike the colonists with a sense of 
their just claim to independence, and to stimulate them to assert it. The Proceed- 
ings were printed at Boston in a pamphlet of forty-three pages, by Edes Gill in 
Queen Street, and P. & J. Fleet in Cornhill, and was copied into the " Pennsylvania 
Journal." It was reprinted in London, with a Preface by Franklin, which may be 
found in the fourth volume of his Works, edited by Sparks, p. 381. This Preface is 
in the "Massachusetts Gazette," May 6, 1773. Franklin commended the Report as 
"not the production of a private writer, but the unanimous act of a large American 
city," and remarked: "This nation, and the other nations of Europe, may thereby 
learn, with more certainty, the grounds of a dissension that possibly may, sooner of 
later, have consequences interesting to them all." 

2 James Warren to Samuel Adams, Dec. 8, 1772. 

8 Samuel Adams to James Warren, December, 1772. 


quench it." 1 The originators of this measure did not, as is 
the modern practice, attend the meetings in the country and 
speak in favor of the Report. It was its own orator. The 
patriots of Plymouth were the earliest to follow Boston in 
choosing a committee of correspondence. In a few weeks 
the committees so multiplied, and the expression of senti- 
ment was so inspiring, as to exceed the expectation of the 
friends of the measure. The Boston committee began to 
print in the newspapers the letters and proceedings elicited 
by the Boston Report, which, being often elaborate, proved 
too strong a draft on the space at the command of the con- 
ductors. When eighty replies had been received from the 
towns, it was said that to print the proceedings of all 
towns would be impossible, and to make selections would 
shew partiality, and hence their publication was mostly 
suspended. A card, as by authority, appeared in the news- 
papers, in which it was proposed to print the whole in a 
volume ; and each town, however small, was urged to trans- 
mit its sentiments, in order that its name might be in- 
scribed in the catalogue of fame, and handed down to future 
ages. 2 

A few sentences from these patriotic responses will shew 
the spirit of the whole. One says: " May every town in this 
province and every colony on the continent be awakened to 
a sense of danger, and unite in the glorious cause of liberty." 
Another urges that all " should stand firm as one man 
to support and maintain their just rights and liberties." 
Another prophesied that, " if arbitrary measures were to be 
enforced by fleets and armies, there would be a dissolution 

1 Samuel Adams to Elbridge Gerry, Nov. 14, 1772. 

2 "To the Public. It is proposed that all the proceedings of the towns in the 
Massachusetts Province, for the preservation of the rights of America, be collected 
and published in a volume, that posterity may know what their ancestors may have 
done in the cause of freedom. It is expected that the inhabitants of every town, 
however small, will at this time publish their sentiments to the world, that their 
names, with those who have already published, may be recorded in this catalogue 
of fame, and handed down to future ages." Boston Gazette, Jan. 18, 1773. 


of the union between the mother-country and the colonies, 
to the infinite loss of the former and the regret of the lat- 
ter ; " and another responds : " It becomes us to rely no longer 
on an arm of flesh, but on the arm of that all-powerful God 
who is able to unite the numerous inhabitants of this exten- 
sive country as a band of brothers in one common cause." 
Another counselled the formation of an American union. 
One meeting after another echoed the advice for a congress. 1 
One answer runs : " We cannot be supposed to be acquainted 
with the mystery of court policy, but we look upon our- 
selves able to judge so far concerning our rights as men, as 
Christians, and as subjects of British government, as to 
declare that we apprehend those rights, as settled by the 
good people of Boston, do belong to us, and that we look 
with horror and indignation on the violation of them ; " and 
it expressed a readiness to defend them, if need be, with the 
sword. The people of Boston were warmly and gratefully 
thanked for their efforts. One town says : "It is our 
earnest prayer to Almighty God that they may be animated 
still to proceed, and that they may prosper according to the 
desire of their hearts, and receive the most ample and 
durable rewards." The record of this communing of the 
towns, consisting of addresses, letters, and resolutions, con- 
tains the names of the prominent citizens of localities chosen 
on the committees, an approval of the Report, and solemn 
pledges to support the cause it set forth. Thus the patriots 
of this province very generally attained an efficient organ- 

This movement was commended in the press as the most 
likely of any plan ever devised to establish the rights of all 
the colonies, and thus secure peace and harmony; for it was 
reasoned, if the ministers see America united and deter- 
mined, they will give up their vain pretensions. Hence 
union was enjoined in passionate terms. It was repre- 

l Bancroft, vi. 456. 


sented to be the voice of Freedom ; l that she was saying to 
Americans : 

" If you're united in one faithful band, 
Like everlasting mountains you shall stand, 
Whose bases rest on God's almighty hand.'* 

The result of the movement, so far as relates to Massachu- 
setts, was all that could have been expected, and nearly all 
that could have been desired. The Boston committee, cheered 
by the uprising from the pines of Maine and the sands of Ply- 
mouth to the hills of Berkshire, directed the expression of faith 
to be entered on their records," that Providence would crown 
the efforts of the colonies with success, and thus their gen- 
eration would furnish an example of public virtue worthy 
of the imitation of posterity." This faith, however, was 
not based on what might be attempted or might be done on 
the few thousand square miles of territory that was known 
as Massachusetts, but on the hope that the patriots of the 
other colonies would adopt the organization, and " that it 

1 The following lines appeared in the " Boston Gazette " of Jan. 18, 1773: 

By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall. 

The Immortal Farmer. 

Americans, attend to Freedom's cry ! 
Who scorns her voice deserves in chains to die. 
The sordid imps of tyranny conspire 
To set America's fair realms on tire, 
That I in flames of discord may expire. 
But, O my sons ! should Hell itself combine 
With plundering villains in their fell design, 
If you're united in one faithful band, 
Like everlasting mountains you shall stand, 
Whose bases rest on God's almighty hand! 
Strong union's blow shall drive them down to the deep, 
As from the wall your broom the cobwebs sweep. 
But, disunited, you will shortly mourn 
Fair Liberty from your embraces torn ; 
And curse the fatal day that you were born. 
In galling chains for scoundrels you must toil: 
For all your pain no approbating smile! 
In vain you'll then to Heaven for succor cry: 
When Freedom's day of grace is once past by, 
Vile slaves you'll live ; like malefactors die. 


would extend to every town of any consequence throughout 
America ; " in the language of the time, that a continent 
would adopt the organization. 

The spread of the movement, the expression of public 
sentiment, and the indications of a renewal of union, were 
observed with deep interest by Governor Hutchinson of Mas- 
sachusetts, who was the strongest man on the Tory side 
here ; indeed so varied were his talents, and so high was his 
personal character, that he was ranked among the greatest 
and best men in America. The movement seemed to him 
of so formidable a character, that, unless it were checked, it 
must work a total separation of the colonies from Great 
Britain ; and were he to sit still in the place of its origin, 
and do nothing, he might become liable to the charge of con- 
niving at a procedure which he ought to have opposed with 
all the means at his command, and especially as he had 
authentic information that its projectors determined to 
recommend it to the other colonies. On these grounds he 
treated public affairs elaborately in speeches to the General 
Court. He condemned the committees of correspondence 
as not warranted by the Constitution ; declared the doctrines 
set forth by the towns dangerous ; and presented the whole 
question between Great Britain and her colonies in a manner 
uncommonly satisfactory to his political friends. These 
speeches drew from the popular leaders of both branches of 
the legislature searching and triumphant answers, which 
were prepared mainly by James Bowdoin, of the council, 
and Samuel Adams, of the House. The momentous issue, 
close at hand, was foreshadowed in this keen encounter. The 
governor remarked that he knew of no line that could be 
drawn between the supreme authority of parliament and the 
total independence of the colonies, and asked whether there 
was any thing they had to dread more than independence. 
The popular leaders made the grand answer that, if supreme 
authority meant unlimited authority, the subjects of it were 
emphatically slaves, whether residing in the colonies or 


Great Britain ; that the powers of the local legislatures and 
of parliament were so far limited that they could not make 
orders and laws violative of such fundamentals as Magna 
Charta and the Bill of Rights ; that drawing the line between 
the supreme authority of parliament and total independence 
was a profound question, of very great consequence to the 
other colonies, and not to be proposed without their consent 
in a general Congress ; and that there was more reason to 
dread the consequence of absolute power, whether exercised 
by a nation or by a monarch, than total independence. This 
uncommonly able presentation of both sides of the question 
between England and the colonies was circulated in the 
newspapers and in pamphlets, 1 and gave additional signifi- 
cance to the organization of committees of correspondence. 
The course of Hutchinson was not approved by the minis- 
ters ; while the dignity and collusiveness of the answers of 
the legislature were warmly commended by the patriots 
throughout the colonies, and are enduring monuments of 
American statesmanship. 

Meantime the movement of the towns in Massachusetts 
attracted more and more attention in the other colonies. 2 The 

1 Hutchinson's first speech bears date Jan. 6, 1773, the first day of the session. 
He thus (Letter, March 10, 1773) describes the situation at that time: "The con- 
tagion that had begun in Boston had spread through one-third of the towns in the 
province;" and in a letter, June 14, 1773, he says: "I had the fullest evidence of 
a plan to engage the colonies in a confederacy against the authority of parliament. 
The towns of this province were to begin ; the assembly to confirm their doings and 
to invite the other colonies to join." His speech appeared in the "Massachusetts 
Gazette " of January 7. The reply of the House to this speech is dated January 27, 
and is in the "Massachusetts Gazette " of February 4. The second speech of the 
Governor is dated February 16, and is in the " Massachusetts Gazette " of February 
22. The reply of the House is dated March 2, and is in the journals of the 4th. The 
papers were very able. On the authorship of them, see the elaborate note in Wells 1 s 
"Life of Adams," ii. 31. 

2 A letter in the "Boston Gazette," Jan. 25, 1773, from Philadelphia, says: 
"Your town meeting's resolves begin to excite the attention of the people of these 
parts." The issue of March 18 says that the "Pennsylvania Journal" contained 
" the votes and proceedings of the town, with marginal notes supposed to be the 
Farmer." The "News Letter" (Tory) of April 1 says: "These votes were never 
published in any paper of this town, nor the names of the committee of corres- 


Boston Report was printed in full in Southern newspapers. 
" It breathes the true spirit of liberty," wrote Richard Henry 
Lee ; 1 and it was said, " When a general state of quiescence 
seemed to prevail over the whole empire, when patriotism 
seemed expiring, the noble efforts of the towns, and the per- 
severance with which they pursued the object of having 
their violated rights redressed, gave sensible pleasure to the 
friends of freedom." 2 But the patriots did not choose com- 
mittees of correspondence. It was said in Boston, " They 
are still and quiet at the South, and at New York they laugh 
at us." 3 The Governor thought that his condemnation of 
the committees had checked their progress in the province, 
and hoped it would prevent the spread of the organization 
to the other colonies. 4 In fact the issue on Royal Instruc- 
tions, as applied to the salaries of officials in Massachusetts, 
was too near an abstraction to stir elsewhere the popular 
feeling. Passionate words were not enough. The general 
apathy continued. A case of violated right bearing on the 
people of all the colonies was needed. 

Lord Dartmouth supplied the want in a fresh Royal In- 
struction, dated the 4th of September, 1772, but not made 
public until four months later. It was directed to the 
Governor of Rhode Island. It created, under the sign 
manual of the king, a commission to hold its sessions in that 
colony, and to inquire into the circumstances of the burning 
of His Majesty's schooner " Gaspee." This commission was 

1 Richard Henry Lee, Feb. 13, 1773, in a letter to Thomas Cushing, says that 
he had received the pamphlet, and that he should have it printed in the "Virginia 

2 Letter of S. H. Parsons, of Rhode Island, March 3, 1773. He dwelt on the 
New-England confederacy of 1643, and suggested an annual meeting of commis- 
sioners of the colonies. Arthur Lee, Letter to Joseph Reed, Feb. 18, 1773 (Life of 
Reed, vol. i. 47). 

3 .John Adams's Works, ii. 305. 

4 Hutchinson, Feb. 23, 1773, wrote: "I have stopped the progress of the towns 
for the present ; and I think I have stopped the prosecution of another part of the 
scheme, which was for the assembly to invite every other assembly upon the continent 
to assent to the same principles. This part has been acknowledged to me by the 
Speaker (Thomas Cushing), who is in all these measures." Letter Books. 


composed of the chief justices of New York, New Jersey, 
and Massachusetts, the judge of admiralty of Massachusetts, 
and the Governor of Rhode Island. It was instructed that 
the offence was high treason, or levying war against the 
king ; and was directed to order the arrest of the parties 
charged with this crime, together with the witnesses ; and 
to call upon Lieutenant-General Gage, the commander of 
the British army in America, for assistance, if needed, who 
was instructed to despatch a military force into this colony 
whenever the commission should apply for it, in order to 
carry out the object of their appointment. The commis- 
sion was also instructed to deliver the parties thus arrested 
to Admiral Montagu, commander of the naval force, who 
was ordered to send them to England. 

This was a bold Royal Instruction. It violated the funda- 
mental of trial by jury, which, it was now said in the press, 
distinguished the English from all the nations of the earth. 1 
It affected the personal liberty of the individual, and bore 
alike on all the colonies. The army and the navy were 
placed at the disposition of an imposing tribunal, to insure 
its execution. The contemplated action lacked no element 
of completeness to render it a general issue. It was the 
culmination of this grievance of Royal Instructions. It 
stands out among the events of the time in the importance 
of a proximate cause. 

Several patriots of Rhode Island sent extracts from this 
instruction to Samuel Adams, and asked his advice ; who, 
after consultation with a few friends, sent a reply recom- 
mending the Rhode-Island patriots to send a circular to the 
other colonies calling for assistance ; remarking that the en- 
forcement by British troops of this enormous claim of power 
might cause a most violent political earthquake, and that the 
commission ought to awaken the colonies which had been 
too long dozing on the brink of ruin. He repeated himself 
as he wrote : "It should again unite them in one bond. 

1 This was said of the trial by jury in the "Boston Gazette." 


Had that union which once happily subsisted been pre- 
served, the conspirators against our common rights would 
never have ventured upon such bold attempts. It has ever 
been my opinion that an attack upon the liberties of one 
colony is an attack on the liberties of all ; and therefore, 
in this instance, all should be ready to yield assistance to 
Rhode Island." He communicated the Instruction to the 
" Boston Gazette," l when the patriots in different quarters 
denounced the commission, compared it to the star-chamber 
courts of the old country, and pronounced the trial by jury 
the great barrier of their lives and liberties. They averred 
that trial by one's peers was guaranteed by the Constitution ; 
and that whoever attempted to alter or invade this funda- 
mental principle, by which the liberties of the people have 
been secured from time immemorial, is a declared enemy to 
the welfare and happiness of the king and the state. Arthur 
Lee, then in London, who could not have seen this blaze of 
the American press, pronounced the commission " the most 
dreadful violation of their liberties that could be offered ; 
big with every evil that could be dreaded." This spontane- 
ous burst of indignation by a free people was the effect " of 
a sight of chains, and rattling them before putting them on." 
The commission 2 held its first session in Newport, in 

1 Boston Gazette of Jan. 4, 1773. Lord Dartmouth says that the destruction of the 
"Gaspee" is "considered in no other light than as an act of high treason, or levying 
war against the king. And in order that you may have all proper advice and 
assistance in a matter of so great importance, His Majesty has thought fit, with the 
advice of his privy council, to issue his royal commission, under the great seal of 
Great Britain, nominating yourself, and the chief justices of New York, New 
Jersey, and Massachusetts Bay, together with the judge of the Vice Admiralty 
Court established at Boston, to be His Majesty's commissioners for inquiry into and 
making report to His Majesty of all the circumstances relating to the attacking, 
plundering, and burning the "Gaspee" schooner. The king trusts that all persons 
in the colony will pay a due respect to the royal commission." 

2 The commission was composed of Joseph Wanton, the Governor of Rhode 
Island ; Chief Justices Daniel Horsemanden of New York, Frederick Smythe of New 
Jersey, Peter Oliver of Massachusetts; and Robert Auchmuty, judge of the Vice- 
Admiralty Court at Boston. They met at the State House in Newport, Jan. 5, 1773. 
The commission requested the presence of Admiral Montagu, who, on the 14th of 
January, advised the commission that he was at Newport, and had hoisted his flag 


January, 1773, and drew all eyes on Rhode Island, which, 
for a time, seemed destined to be the theatre of great events. 
The Royal Instructions were laid before its assembly by 
Governor Wanton, but that body did not issue a circular 
calling for aid ; and when the chief justice of the court, 
Stephen Hopkins, a member also of the assembly, rose in his 
place and asked for directions how to act, this body advised 
him, when a case arose, to use his discretion. He declared 
that he would not give an order to apprehend any person 
to be transported for trial. TJiis tameness provoked Na- 
thaniel Greene, the future general, to say that the assembly 
appeared to have lost its ancient public virtue, and to have 
sunk into an acquiescence in ministerial mandates. 1 

The Virginia House of Burgesses now. (March 4, 1773) 
convened. As nothing particularly exciting had occurred 
in that colonj r for a considerable time, the people seemed 
to fall into a state of insensibility to their political situa- 
tion; but the Rhode-Island court of inquiry demanded 
attention. A few of the younger members, Patrick Henry, 
Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Francis L. Lee, 
Dabney Carr, and others, met at the Raleigh Tavern to con- 
sult on the state of things. " All," Jefferson says, " were 
sensible that the most urgent of all measures was that of 
coming to an understanding with all the other colonies to 
consider the British claims as a common cause to all, and to 
produce a unity of action ; and for this purpose that a com- 
mittee of correspondence in each colony would be the best 
instrument for intercommunication." 2 This is exact. The 
method is named as though it were an old idea. One of this 
band had urged such a plan, and they had before them the fa- 
mous Boston Report. They agreed upon a set of resolves, 
and Jefferson was requested to present them to the assembly. 

on board the "Lizzard." The movements of the commissioners were related in the 
newspapers. The documents were faithfully gathered by Hon. William R. Staples, 
in the " History of the Destruction of the ' Gaspee,' " printed in 1845. 

1 Greene's Life of Nathaniel Greene, i. 43. 

2 Jefferson's Memoir, p. 4, Ed. of 1830. 


But he desired that Dabney Carr, a new member, should do 
this, in order that his great worth and talents might be 
made known to the House. Accordingly Carr, a brilliant 
young lawyer, 011 the 12th of March moved the resolves, in 
a speech imbued with feeling, imagination, and patriotism, 
which was listened to with delight. He was followed by Rich- 
ard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry, in impressive speeches. 
The resolutions were unanimously adopted. Eleven mem- 
bers were designated a committee of correspondence to com- 
municate with the other colonies, to obtain authentic infor- 
mation of the doings of the administration, and especially 
respecting the Rhode-Island court of inquiry, and to report 
the result to the Burgesses. 1 The genial Botetourt was dead. 

1 An account of the action of Virginia was sent by Benjamin Harrison of that 
colony to William Palfrey of Boston (Life, p. 378), with a letter dated March 14. 
An extract from this letter and the resolves were printed in the " Boston Gazette " 
of. April 12, under the heading of "Boston, April 8," probably the day they were 
received. The editor says the papers alluded to in the letter were the votes and 
proceedings of Boston, and newspapers containing the Governor's speeches and the 
answers of the two Houses. The following Avas the whole communication : 

I received the papers you sent me, and am much obliged to you for them. Our 
assembly sitting a few days after, they were of use to us. You will see by the enclosed 
resolutions the true sentiments of this colony, and that we are endeavoring to bring 
our sister colonies into the strictest union with us, that we may resent in one body any 
steps that may be taken by the administration to deprive any one of us of the least 
particle of our rights and liberties. We should have done more, but we could procure 
nothing but newspaper accounts of the proceedings in Rhode Island. I hope we shall 
not be kept thus in the dark for the future, and that we shall have from the different 
committees the earliest intelligence of any motion that may be made by the tyrants in 
England to carry their infernal purpose of enslaving us into execution. I dare venture 
to assure you the strictest attention will be given on our part to these grand points. 

In the House of Burgesses in Virginia, March, 1773. 

Whereas the minds of His Majesty's faithful subjects in this colony have been much 
disturbed by various rumors and reports of proceedings tending to deprive them of 
their ancient legal and constitutional rights ; 

And whereas the affairs of the colony are frequently connected with those of Great 
Britain, as well as of the neighboring colonies, which renders a communication of senti- 
ments necessary : in order therefore to remove the uneasiness and to quiet the minds of 
the people as well as for the other good purposes above mentioned, 

Be it Kesolced, That a standing committee of correspondence and inquiry be ap- 
pointed, to consist of eleven persons, viz., the Honorable Peyton Randolph, Esquire. 
Robert Carter Nicholas, Richard Bland, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Ed- 
mund Pendleton, Patrick Henry, Dudley Digges, Dabney Carr, Archibald Carey, and 
Thomas Jefferson, Esqiiires, any six of whom to be a committee, whose business it 
shall be to obtain the most early and authentic intelligence of all such acts and reso- 
lutions of the British parliament, or proceedings of administration, as may relate to or 


His successor, Earl Dunmore, was a ready instrument of 
arbitrary power. On hearing of these resolves, he dissolved 
the House. The members repaired to the Apollo, and agreed 
upon a circular letter which the speaker, Peyton Randolph, 
was directed to send to the colonies. The foremost in striking 
this key-note of union were Jefferson, who probably penned 
the resolves, and Carr, who moved them in the House. 
They were scholars, brothers-in-law, and bosom friends ; 
and were accustomed to pursue their studies under the 
shade of a favorite oak at Monticello, the beautiful residence 
of Jefferson. Dabney Carr, a few weeks after he rendered 
this noble service, was called to his rest. His friend did 
not follow until after the fulness of honors and of years. 
The mortal remains of both lie side by side under the 
branches where they had pored over Bacon and Coke, and 
indulged in visions of the future glory of their country. 1 

The action of Virginia was an inspiration to the cause, 
and especially to the Massachusetts patriots. Their appeal 
for organization had been doing its work four months ; and, 
however gratifying the results might have been within the 
province, their plan had not been adopted in any other, not 
one town outside of Massachusetts, I think, choosing a 
committee of correspondence. 2 The Boston committee, on 
receiving the Virginia resolves, had them printed on a 

affect the British colonies in America, and to keep up and maintain a correspondence 
and communication with her sister colonies respecting these important considerations, 
and the result of their proceedings from time to time to lay before this House. 

JResolved, That it be an instruction to the said committee that they do without delay 
inform themselves particularly of the principles and authority on which was consti- 
tuted a court of inquiry, said to have been lately held in Rhode Island, with powers to 
transport persons accused of offences committed in America to places beyond the seas 
to be tried. 

flesolved, That the speaker of this House do transmit to the speakers of the dif- 
ferent assemblies of the British colonies on this continent copies of the said resolutions, 
and desire that they will lay them before their respective assemblies, and request them 
to appoint some person or persons of their respective bodies to communicate from time 
to time with the said committee. 

1 Randall's Life of Jefferson, i. 83. 

2 Hutchinson's "History of Massachusetts," vol. iii. p. 392, says that the first 
notice which appears of the Boston resolves was by the assembly of Virginia. 


broadside, and sent (April 8) to all the towns, " to gladden 
the hearts of all who are friends of liberty." The towns, 
in their enthusiasm, were prompt to pronounce the resolves 
" worthy the imitation of every house of general assembly 
on the continent." l The Boston committee, by the hands 
of Samuel Adams, in a letter to the Virginia committee, 
expressed their gratitude for this action, their veneration for 
that most ancient colony, and their unfeigned esteem for its 
committee. " This," Adams said, " is indeed a poor return. 
1 hope you will have the hearty concurrence of every assem- 
bly 011 the continent. It is a measure which will be attended 
with great and good consequences ; " and he asked the 
significant question, " Whether the establishment of com- 
mittees among the several towns of every colony would tend 
to promote that general union upon which the security of the 
whole depended ? " 2 or whether the plan inaugurated by the 
towns of Massachusetts might not be more effectual ? Both 
plans were designed to be carried out through legal channels, 
and both were designed to be inter-colonial in their range. 
They differed widely in their practical working. In the Vir- 
ginia plan, the immediate constituents of the committee were 
the assembly ; in the Massachusetts plan, they were the legal 
voters : in one plan the unit was the colony ; in the other 
the unit was the individual. 

The circular of Peyton Randolph was brief, expressing 
the hope that the measure of corresponding committees 
would prove of general utility if the other colonies should 
see fit to adopt it. Benjamin Harrison wrote that the 
object to bring the colonies into the strictest union was, 
that they might resent an infringement on their rights in 
one body. Richard Henry Lee wrote : " Full scope is given 
to a large and thorough union of the colonies, though our 
language is so contrived as to prevent the enemies of 

l Resolves of the town of Woburn, April 24, 1773. 
i 2 Samuel Adams to R. H. Lee. Life of R. H. Lee, i. 87. 


America from hurrying this transaction into a vortex of 

The journals soon announced the assemblies, which 
adopted the " plan of union proposed by the patriotic House 
of Burgesses," by choosing committees. The Rhode-Island 
assembly assured the Burgesses they were convinced that a 
firm union of the colonies was absolutely necessary for the 
preservation of their ancient constitutional rights. The 
Connecticut assembly were of opinion that the reasons given 
by the Burgesses were weighty and important in matter and 
design, and calculated to produce the happy effect of securing 
their ancient legal and constitutional rights ; and a select com- 
mittee (Aug. 10, 1773) hoped " to cultivate and strengthen 
that harmony and union among all the English colonies on 
the continent of America, which daily appeared to them 
more and more necessary to preserve and secure the safety, 
peace, prosperity, and happiness of the whole." The New- 
Hampshire assembly pledged that colony to " co-operate 
with her sister colonies to recover and perpetuate the liber- 
ties of America," and gratefully acknowledged the prudence 
and vigilance of Massachusetts and Virginia, in so early 
taking and sounding the American alarm. The Massachu- 
setts assembly poured forth gratitude to the Burgesses for 
vigilance, wisdom, and firmness in support of American 
rights and liberties. The South-Carolina assembly thanked 
the Burgesses for their steady attention to American inter- 
ests, and expressed a readiness to co-operate in a measure 
dictated by such wise counsels, and directed to such laudable 
ends. In this spirit five assemblies promptly responded to 
the action of Virginia. Their resolutions, in stating the 
object of the committees, were generally a transcript of 
those of Virginia ; and were sent to the assemblies in 
circular letters, usually signed by the speakers. Thus six 
colonies, under the general issue created by the last Royal 
Instruction, exchanged assurances of co-operation, and, as 


Jefferson characterizes their action, appointed " committees 
of national correspondence." 1 

The hearty welcome of this action, and the earnest lan- 
guage of the popular leaders, shew how much it was desired 
that the remaining seven colonies should join in the plan of 
deliverance, which, it was said, " Heaven itself seemed to 
have dictated to the noble Virginians." 2 No recommenda- 

1 The dates of the action of the assemblies named in the text are as follows : 
Rhode Island, May 7, 1773. The resolves are in the "Massachusetts Gazette" 

of May 20. The committee were Stephen Hopkins, Moses Brown, John Cole, 
William Bradford, Henry Marchant, and Henry Ward. The speaker, Metcalf 
Bowler, transmitted, May 15, the resolves to the assemblies. His letter is in the 
"Massachusetts Letter Book." He read to the assembly in August letters from the 
speakers of the assemblies of the other colonies, in reply, "concurring with the 
resolves lately entered into by the glorious House of Burgesses of Virginia." 
Massachusetts Gazette, Aug. 30, 1773. 

Connecticut, May 21. The committee were Ebenezer Silliman, William Wil- 
liams, Benjamin Payne, Samuel Holden Parsons, Nathaniel Wales, Silas Deane, 
Samuel Bishop Joseph Trumbull, Erastus Woolcott. The resolves are in the 
"Massachusetts Gazette," June 17. Ebenezer Silliman, May 29, transmitted the 
resolves to the other colonies. Massachusetts Letter Book. A select committee to 
correspond were William Williams, Silas Deane, Benjamin Payne, and Joseph 
Trumbull, who signed the letter of August 10, 1773, cited in the text. 

New Hampshire chose May 27. Its committee were John Wentworth, John 
Sherburne, William Parker, John Giddinge, Jacob Sheafe, Christopher Tappan, and 
John Pickering. The notice of the action is in the "Massachusetts Gazette," 
May 31. 

Massachusetts, May 28. The committee were Thomas Gushing, Samuel Adams, 
John Hancock, William Phillips, William Heath, Joseph Hawley, James Warren, 
Richard Derby, Jr., Elbridge Gerry, Jerathmeel Bowers, Jedediah Foster, Daniel 
Leonard, Thomas Gardner, Jonathan Greenleaf, and James Prescott. The resolves 
are in the Boston journals of May 31. 

South Carolina, July 8. The resolve reads "that Mr. Speaker and any eight of 
the other members of the standing committee of correspondence be a committee 
... to correspond" with the committees appointed by the House of Burgesses or 
to be appointed by other " sister colonies." The reply to the Burgesses is signed by 
Raw. Lowndes, Speaker. The resolves are in the "Boston Gazette," Aug. 9, 

2 Solon, in "New Hampshire Gazette," June 18, 1773. He adds: "0 Ameri- 
cans ! embrace this plan of union as your life. It will work out your political salva- 
tion." The same paper, July 2, has the following, "inserted by desire," from the 
"Providence Gazette: " 


The Union of the Colonies, which is now taking Place, is big with the most impor- 
tant Advantages to this Continent. From this Union will result our Security from all 
foreign enemies ; for none will dare to invade us against the combined Force of these 


tion of it was more generous than that of the patriots of 
Massachusetts ; nor was any action more prompt and efficient 
in following this lead than that of the Boston committee. 
They sent, in June, another circular to the towns, in which 
they urged that by unity they would be able to defeat the 
violators of their rights, that all private views ought to 
be renounced, and the good of the whole become the single 
object of pursuit ; for the period called for the strictest con- 
currence of sentiment and action by every individual of the 
province and continent. 1 The call for a congress came up 
from several quarters. It was said in the Fifth of March 
oration, in Boston, that a future congress would be the 
future salvation of America. 2 A Philadelphian proposed 
that annually, or as often as occasion might require, the 
colonies should send deputies to form a court like that of 
the Amphictyons, which managed the general affairs of the 
Athenians. 3 Samuel Adams thought that a congress, and 
then an assembly of the States, was no longer a mere fiction 
in the minds of a political enthusiast. 4 Ezra Stiles judged 
that the extensive alarm which the Royal Instruction creat- 
ing the commission gave the colonies on the continent 
occasioned the Virginia resolutions, and predicted that the 
committees chosen by the assemblies would terminate in a 

Colonies, nor will a British Parliament dare to attack our Liberties, when we are 
united to defend them. The United Americans may bid Defiance to all their open as 
well as secret foes ; therefore let it be the Study of all to make the Union of the 
Colonies firm and perpetual, as it will be the great Basis for Liberty and every public 
Blessing in America. In this Union every Colony will feel the Strength of the Whole; 
for if one is invaded, All will unite their Wisdom and Power in her Defence. In this 
Way the weakest will become strong, and America will soon be the Glory of the World, 
and the Terror of the wicked Oppressors among the Nations. We cannot forbear 
triumphing in the idea of the great Things that will soon be accomplished in this 
Country, and the rapid spread of American Glory. But it is highly probable that our 
most exalted ideas fall far short of what will one day be seen in America. 


1 Journals of the Boston Committee, June 23, 1773. 

2 Oration of Benjamin Church, March 5, 1773. 

8 This, perhaps the most definite of the propositions, is found in the "Boston 
Gazette " of March 15, 1773, in a piece of about five columns, entitled "Proposals 
for the Good of the Colonies, by a Philadelphian." 

* Letter to Arthur Lee, April 9, 1773. 


general congress. 1 The enthusiasm of the hour may be said 
to have culminated in the thought that, by union. America 
would soon be the glory of the world, and the terror of 
wicked oppressors among the nations. 

The " new union " and its embodiment in corresponding 
committees was closely watched by royal officers, and largely 
dwelt upon in their letters. It was plain that the strict 
execution of the instruction creating the court of inquiry 
would bring on a crisis. There was the vacillation of doubt 
among them rather than the decision and energy of con- 
fidence. The Governor, though of proclivities that carried 
him ultimately to the side of government, hesitated in 
executing the Royal Instruction ; the chief justice declined 
to order arrests on the presentations made to him ; the 
commission did not call for a military force. The Vir- 
ginia resolves " struck a greater panic into the minis- 
ters " than any thing that had occurred since the Stamp 
Act. 2 It is enough here to state results. The commission 
held a final session in June, when they agreed upon an 
elaborate report, in which they conceded that the com- 
mander of the " Gaspee," in detaining vessels indiscrimi- 
nately, exceeded the bounds of his duty, and did this out of 
a reprehensible zeal. The commission then adjourned. 3 
The design of transporting Americans to England was 
given up. This was the close of the issue of Royal Instruc- 
tions. It was their mission to rouse a spirit which inaugu- 
rated the organization of the popular party. 

The patriots had cast the aegis of their inchoate union 
over the personal liberty of Americans, by securing trial 
by jury. They triumphed when less than half the assem- 
blies had chosen committees of correspondence. The 

1 Letter (1773) in Life of Stiles, p. 108. 

2 Letter of William Lee, of London, in Campbell's "History of Virginia," 570. 

3 The commission adjourned June 23. The Report is dated the 22d. A letter 
dated Oct. 8, 1773, in the "Massachusetts Gazette," Oct. 28, says: "The Rhode- 
Island commission was a measure resolved on before Lord Dartmouth was in office; 
and, I am well informed, the issue of it has been very acceptable to him." 


other assemblies some because they did not happen to 
meet did not choose until another issue arose. In fact 
political agitation subsided, in the spring, when it was 
seen that the arbitrary commission did not act; and the 
public mind became calm when it was abandoned. The 
publication of a collection of letters, sent by American 
loyalists to their friends in England, revealing their agency 
in promoting an obnoxious policy, and returned by Franklin, 
produced a spasm of indignation ; but this soon passed off. 
The tax on tea was a dead letter. Ordinary Royal Instruc- 
tions proved an insufficient basis upon which to carry 011 agita- 
tion. The more ardent among the popular leaders, who felt 
that acquiescence in these instructions as law was criminal, 
commented severely, in the spring and summer of 1773, on 
the silence observed in some quarters, and the timidity in 
others. 1 The Tories exulted in the general apathy. They 
saw in the non-action a natural relapse, and rejoiced that 
things were returning to their old channel. 2 

As Samuel Adams reviewed the events of this period 
about three years later, he remarked that, notwithstanding 
all that had been said and done, real union had not been 
reached. It is easy now to see that this was the fact. The 
cause needed an impulse other than form or personal leader- 
ship could give. It needed another aggression, something 
startling, that should stir feeling, quicken the public pulse, 
and create a popular tide, which in the nature of a providen- 
tial current should bear the popular party onward beyond 
the possibility of a reaction. It was soon supplied by 
George III. in the Tea Act. It was the case over again of 
Joseph and his brethren : their design was evil, but it was 
overruled for good. 

1 Samuel Adams, April 9, 1773, wrote to R. H. Lee that the timidity of some 
colonies and the silence of others were discouraging. 

2 Massachusetts Gazette (Tory), April 16, 1773. The writer says: " It is curious 
to recollect how we met together in various towns, how we made speeches, how we 
threatened, how we drew up resolutions, how we printed them, and wrote essays on 
liberty and railed against impostors, and burnt effigies, and drank toasts. After this, 
things returned to the old channel, and we heard no more about Liberty. Some sup- 
pose she died about that time." 


The popular party were prepared to take advantage of 
such an impulse. In meeting the Stamp Act, they evoked 
a sentiment of union ; in meeting the Townshend Acts, they 
created and embodied an intelligent public opinion ; and 
Royal Instructions had produced the fruit of an organiza- 
tion in the committees of correspondence, municipal and 
legislative, ready to widen out to the breadth of a common 
union. In this action Massachusetts and Virginia, like two 
sagacious leaders, went hand in hand. The venerated 
characters whose names are connected with this step had 
nothing narrow or selfish in their plans or objects. They 
embraced common principles. They were impelled onward 
by great ideas. They aimed to unite all of similar political 
faith, wherever they were, in the bonds of a common brother- 

So much has been written about these famous committees, 
and especially on the credit due to Massachusetts and Vir- 
ginia in forming them, that nothing need be added. 1 The 
narrative now brought down to the month of August, 1773, 
shews the results effected under the issue of Royal Instruc- 

The action of the House of Burgesses followed a season 
of mutual crimination and disunion ; and the prompt accep- 
tance of its invitation by five assemblies was an earnest of 
harmony and future concert. This, contrasted with the 
recent division and strife, was like the passage from death 
to life. Its salutary effect on the cause is attested by 
abundant contemporary evidence ; and it ever afterwards 
occupied a high place in the minds of the actors as a spring 

l The statements by Wirt (1817) in his "Life of Patrick Henry," as to the 
origin of committees of correspondence, were criticised in the " North -American 
Review" of March, 1818; and interesting details on the subject may be found in 
Tucker's "Life of Jefferson," i. 52-55, printed in 1837, in Kennedy's "Memoirs of 
Wirt," 1849, and Randall's "Life of Jefferson," 1858, vol. i. pp. 78 to 81. Randall 
remarks: " We will not aver that all the colonies acted exactly alike in the opening 
of that [Revolutionary] struggle. But it is safe to say that the Whigs in all the 
colonies felt substantially alike." I have endeavored, in this chapter and the next, 
to relate how they acted in the emergencies that arose. 


of events. Its opponents ascribed to these committees the 
effect " in some measure to defeat and counteract the power 
reserved to the Governor of proroguing and dissolving the 
assemblies," 1 by acting in the recess. These committees, 
however, did not hold conferences with each other, or even 
correspond with each other, during the issue ' of Royal 
Instructions, with a view to maturing a congress, or indeed 
to any joint action. The design of transporting Americans 
to England for trial being defeated, there was no emergency 
calling for extraordinary effort. They restricted themselves 
to a cordial interchange of circulars and copies of the pro- 
ceedings of their assemblies. Here they stopped. The 
value of the movement, up to this time, was in the moral 
effect of the pledge of union. 

The Boston committee held stated meetings. It kept up 
a correspondence with the committees chosen by other 
towns. It prepared and circulated political matter. It 
matured political measures. It thus performed the service 
which is expected of the committees representing modern, 
parties, by aiming to create and guide public sentiment.. 
The precise character of the work of the committee is seeni 
in its records, 2 which are in fine preservation. Much of this, 
correspondence which bears an indelible impress of the 
spirit of the time has never been printed. The organiza- 
tion extended itself very generally throughout the province. 
Thus the popular party here were ready for the varied work 
required by the progress of events, as the Revolution as it 

1 Governor Hutchinson wrote to Lord Dartmouth, July 10, 1773: "Upon the 
same erroneous principles the assemblies of Virginia, of this province, Rhode Island, 
and Connecticut, have appointed their respective committees of correspondence, who 
act in the recess of the courts ; and the like committees are expected from the other 
assemblies when they shall be convened. This in some measure defeats and counter- 
acts the powers reserved to the governors, in what are called the loyal governments, 
of proroguing or dissolving the assembly at pleasure." 

2 The journals and papers of this committee, forming a portion of the rich collec- 
tion of Samuel Adams, are in possession of Mr. Bancroft; and I am indebted to his 
courtesy for a free examination of them. An account of them may be found in the 
preface to volume six of his great history. 



went on, in the way of all revolutions, ordained its own 
rules of action. 

The vast territory possessed by Great Britain in America, 
reaching from Canada to Florida, and the prosperity of its 
people, continued to suggest animating speculation. Dr. 
William Smith said it was impossible for an attentive ob- 
server not to behold an empire already planted, which, with 
careful culture, promised to enlarge itself to vast dimensions, 
and to give law as well as happiness to every other part of 
America. 1 President Stiles said that it was most firmly 
believed that Providence intended a glorious empire in 
America, which, composed of a people growing up with a 
fervid love of liberty, would become a phenomenon in the 
political world worthy of a very serious attention. 2 This 
speculation was indulged in by Whig and by Tory. It 
was sent out from the halls of learning ; it was inscribed on 
the page of history ; and it was spread as on the wings of the 
morning in the press. It was the desire and the hope that 
this empire might be one with Great Britain, in the ideal of 
Americans, on the principles of universal liberty, and as 
the protector of their individual rights and local self-govern- 
ment. As they dwelt on the prospect of such an empire, 
they exclaimed : " What human imagination can form an 
idea of the dominion and glory to which our nation 
might arrive ! As the rising sun hides the stars, so would 
the British empire eclipse all other nations under heaven." 
This sentiment was so common as to elicit the remark that 
love of the mother-country was the reigning principle that 
animated Americans. 3 

1 Address of William Smith, D.D., Provost of the College and Academy of 
Philadelphia, in behalf of that Seminary, in "Massachusetts Gazette," March 23, 

2 President Stiles (Life, 163) to Mrs. Macaulay. 

3 Boston Gazette, Dec. 23, 1771. "To break off our connection with the parent 
country, before the law of self-preservation absolutely obliges us, is a thought we 
never harbor in our breasts. The reigning principle which animates Americans is 
love to Great Britain." 


But love of liberty under law was the reigning principle. 
The high-toned theories of government, the course of the 
ministry, the arrogance of its champions, its practices with 
the assemblies, its scorn of popular rights, its treatment of 
petitions, tended to weaken the attachment to the mother- 
country. Salient aggressions roused ardent natures to utter 
thoughts that were the dawnings of a sentiment of nation- 
ality. 1 They nurtured the idea that devotion to the cause 

1 The following citations will shew how continuously the idea of an independent 
nation was presented in the newspapers : 

Boston Gazette, Jan. 6, 1772. An American writes: " The more eligible course for 
the Americans, and that which they will probably take, is to form a government 
of their own, similar to that of the United Provinces in Holland, and offer a free trade 
to all the nations of Europe. ... If she (Great Britain) still pursues false maxims 
and arbitrary measures, the Americans will soon dissolve their union with Great 
Britain. They have all the advantages for independence, and every temptation to im- 
prove them that ever a people had." 

A piece dated New Hampshire, June, 1772, says: " If no regard is paid to our united 
complaints, we should be justified in the sight of the world if we sought a remedy 
in another way. I mean set up a government of our own, independent of Great 

An American in "Boston Gazette," Nov. 2, 1772, says: "The only method that 
promised any prospect of the preservation of freedom was for the people to unite in 
remonstrance to the king, and to say that, unless their liberties were restored whole 
and entire, they would form an independent commonwealth after the example of the 
Dutch Provinces, secure their ports, and offer a free trade to all nations." 

The town of Pembroke (Dec. 28, 1772) said: " If the measures so justly complained 
of ... were persisted in and enforced by fleets and armies, they must (we think of it 
with pain), they will, in a little time issue in the total dissolution of the union between 
the mother-country and the colonies, to the infinite loss of the former and regret of the 

A piece in the " Boston Gazette," Jan. 11, 1773, says: "If the Britons continue their 
endeavors much longer to subject us to their government and taxation, we shall be- 
come a separate State. . . . This is as certain as any event that has not already come 
to pass." 

A Philadelphian, in a paper copied into the " Boston Gazette, March 15, 1773, pro- 
posed " that all the colonies should unite in a public manifesto, signifying that the 
crown and mother-country have broke their faith with us, and therefore we shall break 
off our connection with them." 

The Cambridge Committee of Correspondence, April, 1773, say : " We trust the day 
is not far distant when our rights and liberties shall be restored to us, or the colonies, 
united as one man, will make their most solemn appeal to Heaven, and drive tyranny 
from these northern climes." Cited in Bancroft, v. 466. 

" In " The American Alarm, or the Boetonian Plea," a pamphlet, May, 1773, is the 
following in an address to the king: "The union of the towns in the Province of 
Massachusetts Government shew that they strongly declare their heart and life en- 
gaged for their rights and liberties ; that deputies and congresses of the united prov- 
inces will soon follow unless, &c. ... If the parliament continue these destructive 
plans, . . . the fatal period which we all deprecate cannot be very far distant, when the. 
political union between Great Britain and these colonies will be dissolved." 


of justice was a higher obligation than fidelity to the old 
flag when it was used to cover despotic power. They re- 
volved the saying of a great patriot, that freedom and 
security, under Providence, depended on themselves. 1 They 
reasoned that continued regard of the just complaints of 
the people might have " the valuable tendency to make the 
next effort for freedom savor more of that virtue and valor 
for which Englishmen in former ages had been justly re- 
nowned, and might turn the Great People to call on the 
name of the Lord, and to seek a redress of their grievances 
with the spear and lance at that glorious seat of justice 
where Moses brought the Egyptians and Samson the Philis- 
tines." 2 They averred that if the ministry persisted in its 
policy, the Americans would be justified in the eyes of the 
world in forming an independent nation ; that it was morally 
certain this would eventually take place ; that the only 
question was, how long it would be before that event should 
transpire : but by all the signs of the times and appearances 
of things it was very near. " 'Tis not probable that it is at 
the distance of fifteen years." 3 

The specific demand, however, was for union and a con- 
gress, the specific object aimed at was a redress of griev- 
ances; for the springs of action were not love for the 
bloody work of revolution or hatred of the mother-country. 
It was reasoned : " Have not the Americans as good a right 
to form a union now as they had during the Stamp Act, 
and as the New-England colonies had during the infancy of 
the country ? And is it not a legal, peaceable, and the most 
likely method of obtaining a full redress of our grievances ? " 

1 The "New-Hampshire Gazette," June 18, 1773, said: "It is in vain for us to 
expect that our liberties in America will be supported by men in Great Britain ; and 
it was long since truly said by a great patriot (Hon. Mr. Adams, representative of 
Boston) 'that our freedom and security, under Providence, depended on our- 
selves.' " 

2 Boston Gazette, Oct. 12, 1772. 
a Boston Gazette, March 2, 1772. 


And it was urged that such a union, firm and perpetual, 
would be a sure foundation for freedom, and the great basis 
for every public blessing. All were enjoined " to prepare 
to act as joint members of the grand American Common- 



AUGUST, 1773, TO AUGUST, 1774. 

THE popular party so effectually resisted arbitrary power as 
embodied in Royal Instructions, that the ministry abandoned 
their design of transporting Americans to England for trial 
through the Rhode-Island commission, and before half the 
assemblies had chosen committees of correspondence ; when 
political agitation subsided. It was soon renewed by the 
Tea Act, and intensified by the Boston Port Act, when 
there was a general development of union; which was em- 
bodied in committees of correspondence, a movement for 
a congress, and pledges to make its decisions a rule of 
action. ,. 

The people were generally prosperous in business affairs, 
and desired peace. A town under the lead of zealous Whigs 
voted that the union between the colonies #nd Great Britain 
was not worth a rush ; occasionally a writer urged in an 
essay in the newspapers that the only way to place American 
liberty on a firm foundation was to form an independent 
nation : but these were the views of extremists, and were 
generally disavowed. The great body of the Whigs united 
with the Tories in prizing this union as of incalculable value. 
They regarded themselves as fellow-subjects with Britons. 
They looked on the people of both countries as being one in 
the essential elements of nationality, political ideas, language, 
and the Christian religion ; and one in the love of a noble lit- 


erature and precious historic memories. They kindled at the 
sight of the old flag and at thoughts of the mother-land, 

"A land of just and old renown, 
Where freedom broadens slowly down 
From precedent to precedent; " 

and it was the prevailing sentiment that a recognition of co- 
equal rights would enable the people of both countries to live 
long under the same flag. The popular leaders averred that 
they did not deny the sovereignty, but opposed the adminis- 
tration. They did not ascribe the obnoxious measures to the 
king whom they revered, or to the Constitution which they 
venerated, or to the nation which they loved, but to despotic 
ministers and corrupt majorities. They had thwarted arbi- 
trary power, whether attempted by the crown or by the legis- 
lature, and this was enough ; and when the people saw that 
the Rhode -Island commission, formed to deal with the 
destroyers of the " Gaspee," did not act, political agitation 

The colonists were in the habit of expressing loyalty to 
George III. in letters written in the confidence of friendship 
as well as in their state papers ; and the king knew this ; l but 
he continued to deal with what he termed "the internal 
police, the trade and the improvement of America," 2 in the 
spirit that dictated the Bute policy. He had been trained 
up in the idea that it was his duty to be every inch a king in 
his native realm, and much more over his dependencies. 8 
He was the real head of the responsible government, and the 
sole dictator of its policy ; 4 and when measures which he so 
largely inspired were opposed by his American subjects as 
unwarranted by the Constitution, he became bitter in his 

1 Letter of Franklin to Samuel Cooper, April 27, 1769. He says: " I hope noth- 
ing . . . will diminish our loyalty to our sovereign or affection for this nation. I can 
scarcely conceive a king of better dispositions," &c. This letter, with others, was 
intercepted, and sent to the king. Sparks's Franklin, vol. vii. 440. 

2 Donne's Correspondence of George III., i. p. 107. 

3 Ibid., ii. p. 4. 

4 Massey, History of England, ii. 178. 


feelings towards them, and was fixed in his determination by 
any means to produce submission. He was unfortunate in 
having for his chief adviser Lord North, who lacked firmness, 
and hence consented to measures from which his good sense 
often recoiled. He was more unfortunate in Lord North's 
colleagues, Lords Mansfield, Sandwich, George Germaine, in 
his Attorney-General, Thurloe, and Solicitor-General, Wed- 
derburne, violent men whose sentence was for war, or cor- 
rupt men who thought only of what was pleasant to the 
king ; and he was most unfortunate of all in reigning over a 
people a majority of whom shared fully his sentiments. 

When Lord Dartmouth took charge of the American 
department, the king sent to Lord North a sketch of such 
alterations in the administration of its affairs 1 as he thought 
essential to give efficacy to the government. The first-fruit 
of this advice was probably the Rhode-Island commission. 
The king's next measure related to the duty on tea. This 
was inoperative. The Americans would not buy teas shipped 
from England : they would not live without tea ; and hence 
illicit importations came in freely from Holland. The affairs 
of the East-India Company were in great confusion, and a 
portion of its financial troubles was alleged to be owing to 
the loss of the American trade in tea. The king now sug- 
gested a plan to relieve the corporation, and at the same 
time try the question with America. 

Lord North in the House of Commons proposed (April 27, 
1773) " to allow the company to export such portion of the 
tea then in their warehouses, to British America, as they 
should think proper, duty free." He moved two resolutions, 
providing that on all teas imported to any British Plantations 
in America after the 10th of May, 1773, " a drawback be 
allowed of all the duties of customs paid upon the importation 
of such teas," which left the company to pay the 'three- 
pence tax on the teas imported into America ; and the reso- 
lutions provided that this importation should be made under 

1 Donne's Correspondence of George III., i. p. 107. 


licenses from the commissioners of the Treasury. 1 The meas- 
ure roused no opposition, occasioned little, if any, debate, 
and was adopted. It was carried to the House of Lords on 
the 6th of May, adopted there also, and on the 10th received 
the royal assent. The ministry thought it a wise scheme to 
take off so much duty on tea as was paid in England, as this 
would allow the company to sell tea cheaper in America than 
foreigners could supply it ; and to confi-ne the duty here, to 
keep up the exercise of the right of taxation. " They," 
Franklin wrote, " have no idea that any people can act from 
any other principle but that of interest ; and they believe that 
three pence on a pound of tea, of which one does not perhaps 
drink ten pounds in a year, is sufficient to overcome all the 
patriotism of an American." 2 In arranging the details 
of the execution of the scheme, difficulties arose which 
required the directors to confer with the ministry. In one 
of the interviews Lord North remarked that " it was to no 
purpose making objections,* for the king would have it 
so. The king meant to try the question with Amer- 
ica." 3 Thus " taxation, " Lord Chatham said, " was 
dressed in the robes of an East-India director." Soon 
after, the king, as an answer to late petitions from 
the colonies, reaffirmed the claim of power of the De- 
claratory Act, and said that he was determined " to resist 
with firmness every attempt to derogate from the authority 
of the supreme legislature." A semi-official announcement 
appeared in the newspapers to the effect that His Majesty had 
Declared his intention of supporting the supreme authority of 
parliament to make laws binding on the colonies. 4 Thus the 
monarch reopened the war on a fundamental principle in the 
institutions of a free people. 

The opposition to arbitrary power was never founded so 
much on knowledge and principle, was never so firm and 

1 Parliamentary History, xvii. 841. 

2 Sparks' s Works of Franklin, viii. p. 49. 
8 Almon's Anecdotes of Chatham, ii. 242. 
4 Boston Post Boy, Nov. 5, 1773. 


systematic, as it was at the time of the passage of this Act. 
Little was said of it for several months, for little was known 
of the intentions of the company. Some of the members 
remonstrated against accepting the boon, which they re- 
garded as rather designed to establish a revenue law than 
to help them out of their difficulties. 1 The directors, how- 
ever, in August obtained licenses from the Lords of the Treas- 
ury, and soon despatched ships loaded with teas to the four 
ports of Boston, Charleston, New York, and Philadelphia. 
It is worthy of remark that Franklin does not appear to have 
mentioned in his letters the application for licenses until 
September, 2 nor Arthur Lee until October. 3 

Before these letters were written, the Tea Act had begun 
its mission. In August 4 the report was current in America 
that importations under it were to be carried into effect. 
The scheme was pronounced an attempt to establish the right 
of parliament to tax the colonies and to give the East-India 
Company the monopoly of the 'colonial market. As it bore 
on all the colonies, it diverted attention from the local issues, 
raised the past three years by Royal Instructions, to the orig- 
inal, general, and profound question of taxation. This had 
been argued in the court of public opinion : the verdict on it 
had been made up, and judgment had been rendered. The 

1 " The Annual Register " (vol. xvii. 47, 1774) says that several of the active mem- 
bers remonstrated that the Act was rather calculated for the establishment of the 
revenue law in America than as a favor to the company. 

2 Franklin, Sept. 12, 1773, wrote to Thomas Gushing: " A project is executing to 
send it (tea) from hence, on account of the East-India Company, to be sold in Amer- 
ica, agreeable to a late Act." Sparks's Franklin, viii. 86. 

8 Arthur Lee, Oct. 13, 1773, wrote a letter to Samuel Adams. In a postscript he 
says: " I had forgot to mention a scheme, which is carrying into execution, of insidi- 
ously obtaining from us the duty on tea." Life of Arthur Lee, i. 236. 

4 The "New-Hampshire Gazette," Aug. 27, 1773, has an extract from a letter 
from London, dated May 26 : "I take the first opportunity of acquainting you that the 
East-India Company have obtained leave, by act of parliament, to export their teas 
from England duty-free; and in a short time, perhaps a month, a cargo Avill be sent 
to Boston (subject to the duty payable in America), to be sold in that place on their 
account; and they mean to keep America so well supplied that the trade to Holland 
for that article must be greatly affected." A London letter dated August 4, printed in 
a Philadelphia newspaper of September 29, announced that the company were 
about to send teas to several ports. 


determination of the Americans not to pay a tax levied by a 
body in which they were not represented was as fixed as the 
purpose of the king to collect the duty on tea. A recent 
British writer and legislator has lately said that this deter- 
mination showed great cleverness, as the abstract proposition 
which the patriots held was undeniable, because no nation 
ought to be taxed against their own consent, and " England 
passed through many a civil war in defence of the proposi- 
tion." 1 The Americans of to-day will say that their ances- 
tors showed great intelligence in being alive to these weighty 
considerations founded on right and justice, when the domi- 
nant party in England was dead to them, and a heroic spirit in 
acting up to their convictions. The scheme suddenly roused 
more indignation than had been created by the Stamp Act. 
" All America was in a flame." The mighty surge of 
passion plainly meant resistance. 2 

The resistance contemplated was in general such action as 
might be necessary to thwart by lawful methods this minis- 
terial measure. The idea had been grasped in America that 
there was a Constitution which limited the power of kings, 
lords, and commons. James Otis had urged that, " if the 
reasons that could be given against an Act are such as plainly 
demonstrated that it is against natural equity, the executive 
courts would adjudge such Acts void. 7 ' 3 The conviction was 
deep and general that the claim of parliament to tax was 
against natural equity and against the Constitution, but 
political science had not devised the peaceable mode of 
obtaining redress in such cases in the manner suggested by 

1 Viscount Bury, M.P , "Exodus of the Western Nations," 1865 (vol. i. 368), says: 
" The choice of a pretext (for their resistance) showed great cleverness on the part of 
the American patriots. It put them in the right. The abstract proposition for 
which they fought was undeniable. No nation ought to be taxed against its own 
consent. England has passed through many a year of civil war in defence of the 

2 The transition from apathy to agitation was sudden. A Philadelphia letter, 
dated October 25, says: "Our people are alarmed at the scheme of shipping teas. 
... I have not known so sudden and so universal an appearance of discontent." 
Edinburgh Advertiser, Jan. 4, 1774. 

8 Otis' s Rights of the Colonies, 1764. 


Otis, an idea embodied subsequently in the powers vested 
in the Supreme Court of the United States, and familiar to 
the American mind, which to-day declares such legislation 
void ; and the only way to defeat an odious scheme to collect 
an illegal tax was to follow the methods, as circumstances 
might dictate, of popular demonstration, which had long 
been customary in England, and thus render the law inap- 

At that time the six legislative committees chosen 
under the impulse created by arbitrary royal instructions 
had not exchanged views, much less held a conference, 
in relation to a general plan for a redress of grievances : the 
committees chosen by towns or public bodies outside of 
Massachusetts were inactive ; and hence the organization of 
the popular party was too incomplete to arrive, through this 
channel, at the concert of action which the crisis required. 
There could only have been such understanding as might 
have been reached through limited personal intercourse, pri- 
vate letters, and the expression of sentiment through the 
press, which was valuable as far as it went ; l and it was to 
the effect that nothing important be transacted without con- 
sulting the whole. The efficiency that could not come from 
general organization was supplied by the ripeness and fixed- 
ness of public opinion on the assumption involved in the 
claim of taxation and the Declaratory Act, and the stern 
determination of the people not to submit to it. They did 
not rise up against the paltry duty because they were poor 
and could not pay, but because they were free and would not 
submit to wrong. 

Still there was the efficiency of organic life in Massachu- 
setts, where it was needed the most, where the brunt of 
the attack happened to fall, and where failure or even falter- 
ing would have been disaster. The record of its committees 
of correspondence shows them continually at work, and that 

1 Boston Gazette, Sept. 27, 1773. ' We have now reduced American policy to a 


through them the communion of the popular party had become 
intimate. They urgently desired the patriots of the other 
colonies to adopt their plan. The Boston committee directed 
(Sept. 21, 1773) a spirited Circular, drawn up by Joseph 
Warren, to be sent out to all the towns of the province ; but 
each member was charged with the duty of sending a copy 
" to his friends in the other governments." In this they 
said that their enemies were alarmed at the union already 
established in Massachusetts, and at the prospect of the con- 
federacy into which the whole continent would soon be 
drawn for the recovery of violated rights : they urged that 
watchfulness, unity, and harmony were necessary for the 
salvation of themselves and their posterity from bondage ; 
and they concluded with the remark : " We have an 
animating confidence in the supreme Disposer of events, 
that he never will suffer a brave and virtuous people to be 
enslaved." 1 

Though the six legislative committees were inactive, yet 
the opposition to the scheme to import teas was pronounced 
more general it could not have been more determined- 
than it was to the Stamp Act. 2 The popular movement since 
that time had been more regular and progressive. There 
was now the power of an intelligent public opinion behind 
the determination to baffle the attempt to establish the tea 
duty. The manifestations in each of the four ports to which 
the teas were consigned, printed in the newspapers, consti- 
tuted strong assurances that the patriots in each felt, talked, 
and acted in a similar spirit, and that the teas would not be 
allowed to be sold, even if they were permitted to be landed. 
The decisive tone in each warrants the remark that the 
question as to which should be the first to thwart the minis- 

1 A copy of the Broadside containing this letter is in the archives of the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society. 

2 Joseph Reed (Life, i. 52) informed Lord Dartmouth that the opposition to the 
Stamp Act was not so general. It was more regular. George Chalmers remarks in 
his letter to Lord Mansfield that, " though the opposition to the Stamp Act was out- 
rageous, it contained more bluster than spirit." Sparks's MSS. in Harvard College 


terial scheme depended on the port selected for the earliest 
consignment. Before this was certainly known, there were 
great popular demonstrations. 

The patriots of Philadelphia, early in October, circulated 
an " Address to the Tea Commissioners," in which it was said 
that the eyes of all were fixed on them as on men who had it 
in their power to ward off the most dangerous stroke that had 
ever been meditated against the liberties of America, and it 
appealed to them in passionate terms to decline to act. It 
pointed to the unhappy stamp-masters as examples of the 
danger of forcing " the loathsome pills of slavery down the 
throats of a free, independent, and determined people." 1 
Soon after (October 18) a great public meeting at the State 
House resolved that the duty on tea was a tax imposed on the 
colonists without their consent, and tended to render assem- 
blies useless ; that the importation of the East-India Company 
was an attempt to enforce this tax ; and that whoever coun- 
tenanced the unloading, vending, or receiving the tea, was an 
enemy to his country. The consignees, on being requested, 
resigned their commissions. These proceedings of the 
patriots, full of spirit, dignity, and patriotism, were circu- 
lated through the colonies. 

Similar resolution was manifested in each of the four ports. 
The Boston patriots held great and exciting public meetings 
in Faneuil Hall, adopted the Philadelphia resolves, and 
requested the consignees to resign ; but met with a peremp- 
tory refusal. The New- York patriots held a meeting in City 
Hall, highly approved of the action of their brethren of 
Philadelphia and Boston " in support of the common liberties 
of America," and voted that the tea under any circumstances 
should not be landed there. The Charleston patriots, at a 
meeting in their Great Hall, received the resignation of the 

1 This was issued on a Broadside, and was copied into the newspapers of Phila- 
delphia and New York. It was signed Scevola, and had the head-line, " By uniting 
we stand, by dividing we fall." It is addressed, "To the commissioners appointed 
by the East-India Company for the sale of tea in America." It is in the " Boston 
Post Boy " and "Boston Gazette " of October 25. 



consignees with rounds of applause, and returned them 
many thanks. The voluminous details of the proceedings in 
these commercial marts, and in other places, on this issue, 
evinced everywhere indomitable energy and resolution. They 
exhibited communities, recently hurling anathemas against 
each other, now feeling and acting alike, one in the deter- 
mination to thwart " the new ministerial measure." 

In Boston, the course of the consignees, in refusing to 
resign, fixed all eyes upon the town. The aspect became so 
threatening that the legislative committee of correspondence 
were summoned to meet. They sent a Circular (October 21) 
to the other committees, reviewing in a calm tone, but in 
strong terms, the question between the colonies and Great 
Britain. They stated that even the least relaxation of 
American grievances had not been advised or thought of, 
and asked : "Is it not of the utmost importance that our 
vigilance should increase ; that the colonies should be united 
in their sentiments of the measures of opposition necessary 
to be taken by them ; and that in whichsoever of the colonies 
any infringements are or shall be made on the common 
rights of all, that colony should have the united efforts of all 
for its support ? This, we take it, to be the true design of the 
establishment of our committees of correspondence ; " and, 
averring that they were far from desiring that the connection 
between Great Britain and America should be broken, they 
conclude by urging the necessity that each colony should 
take effectual methods to prevent the execution of the design 
of the British ministry as to the teas. 1 A few days later, the 
Connecticut committee in a Circular (Nov. 4, 1773) said that 
the design of sending teas to the several ports gave them the 
most uneasy apprehensions of the consequences, though they 
had "the utmost confidence in the firmness and virtue of the 

1 This letter contained the following postscript: "It is desired you would not 
make the contents of this letter public, as it will give our enemies opportunity to 
counteract the design of it." A portion of this letter is printed, though very incor- 
rectly, in Bradford's History of Massachusetts, i. 277-280. 



inhabitants of those capital towns on this occasion." I have 
not met with any replies to these circulars. The language 
of the Massachusetts letter implies that no communications 
on the subject had passed between the committees. 

The patriots of Boston were unwearied in their efforts to 
produce the resignation of the consignees, and in this they 
were aided by some of their political opponents. The num- 
bers who attended the great public meetings were swelled by 
men who came in from the country. The executive action, 
by the vote of a legal town meeting, was put into the hands 
of the committee of correspondence, which from time to time 
called in for consultation the committees of the neighboring 
towns, proceeding, Hutchinson said, " like a little senate." 
They kept up a communication with the towns of the province ; 
they explained their course in letters sent to Rhode Island, 
New Hampshire, New York, and Philadelphia ; they sent 
expresses to the South to confer with the patriots there ; and 
they were inspired by the idea that " harmony and concur- 
rence in action, uniformly and firmly maintained, must 
finally conduct them to the end of their wishes, namely, a 
full enjoyment of constitutional liberty." In a long, anxious, 
and irritating contest with the officers of the crown, the Bos- 
tonians stood forth, " like their native rocks, angular, sharp, 
and defiant." Their proceedings gave great joy to the 
patriots in the other colonies. On the reception in Philadel- 
phia of the news of the first meeting, the bells were rung, and 
the merchants greeted the resolves with hearty cheers. Still 
there were doubts expressed whether the love of money 
would not prove stronger than love of the cause. A Phila- 
delphia letter printed in Boston runs : " All we fear is that 
you will shrink at Boston. May God give you virtue enough 
to save the liberties of your country." 

In this way the progress of events served to fix attention 
more and more on Boston ; and its patriots could see in 
expressions from the other colonies that they were relied on 
to act with firmness and efficiency. When the struggle to 


compel the consignees to resign had gone on nearly a month, 
a vessel containing the tea arrived (November 28th) in the 
harbor, and in a few days two others, which the patriots di- 
rected to be moored near the first, that one guard might serve 
for all, their object being to prevent the cargoes from being 
landed. They now concentrated their efforts to have the teas 
sent back in the ships that brought them. The excitement 
increased. " The town," Governor Hutchinson wrote, " is 
as furious as it was in the time of the Stamp Act." The 
patriots apprehended that the consignees and the officers of 
the revenue might attempt to unload the ships, and that the 
naval force might be summoned to protect them ; and such 
was the spirit that prevailed that they talked of resisting by 
arms. An American matron, the wife of one President and 
the mother of another, who adorned a home in which such 
leaders as Quincy and Warren were wont to meet, now wrote : 
" The flame is kindled, and like lightning it catches from 
soul to soul. . . . Many, very many of our heroes will spend 
their lives with the speech of Cato in their mouths. . . . 
My heart beats at every whistle I hear, and I dare not express- 
half my fears." 1 The public meetings became greater than 
ever. John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren,, 
Thomas Young, and William Molineaux were the most prom- 
inent in conducting them. The selectmen of the town now 
took part in the proceedings. The ships with the tea in them 
could not pass the castle without a permit from the Governor. 
He would not grant one before they were regularly cleared 
at the custom house, and the collector declined to give a 
clearance until the vessels were discharged of articles subject 
to duty. All the efforts of the patriots in their long struggle 
had produced from the consignees only a repetition of the 

1 Letter of Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, dated Boston, Dec. 5, 1773 
(Letters, p. 9). John Andrews, Dec. 1, wrote: "It would puzzle any one to 
purchase a pair of pistols in town, as they are all bought up with a full determination 
to repel force by force." He says the arrival of the tea "had caused the most 
spirited and firm conduct to be observed that ever was known." Mass. Hist. Soc. 
Proceedings, 1864-05, 324. 



original peremptory answer, " No resignation," and a refusal 
to return the teas. A vessel twenty days after her arrival in 
port was liable to seizure for the non-payment of the duties ; 
and this would be the case of the " Dartmouth " on the six- 
teenth day of December. 

It was a rainy day. No hand-bills are named as having 
been posted ; no stirring appeals to do an uncommon work 
are to be seen in the newspapers ; but the feeling was general 
that something unusual was to occur. The patriots had a 
committee charged with the duty of summoning people from 
the country when it should be necessary, and they probably 
had been active. A great meeting, held two days before, 
stood adjourned to this day (December 16th), which was 
Thursday. Business in to\vn was generally suspended. The 
inhabitants in the morning flocked to " The Old South 
Meeting House," still standing. They were joined by people 
from the country for twenty miles around. The gathering 
consisted of nearly seven thousand, " merchants, yeomen, 
gentlemen, respectable for their rank, and venerable for 
their age and character. " The forenoon was occupied mostly 
with dealing with Francis Rotch, the owner of the " Dart- 
mouth," who was informed that he was expected to procure a 
pass from the Governor and proceed on this day with his vessel 
on his voyage for London. The meeting adjourned to three 
o'clock in the afternoon. A motion was then submitted 
whether it was the sense of the body to abide by their former 
resolutions not to suffer the tea to be landed ; and on this 
question Josiah Quincy, Jr., spoke as follows : 

" It is not, Mr. Moderator, the spirit that vapors within 
these walls that must stand us in stead. The exertions of 
this day will call forth events which will make a very different 
spirit necessary for our salvation. Whoever supposes that 
shouts and hosannas will terminate the trials of the day 
entertains a childish fancy. We must be grossly ignorant of 
the importance and value of the prize for which we contend ; 
we must be equally ignorant of the power of those who have 


combined against us ; we must be blind to that malice, in- 
veteracy, and insatiable revenge, which actuate our enemies, 
public and private, abroad and in our bosom, to hope that we 
shall end this controversy without the sharpest, the sharpest 
conflicts, to flatter ourselves that popular resolves, popular 
harangues, popular acclamations, and popular vapor will 
vanquish our foes. Let us consider the issue. Let us look 
to the end. Let us weigh and consider before we advance to 
those measures which must bring on the most trying and 
terrific struggle this country ever saw." l 

Thomas Young and Samuel Adams also spoke to this 
motion, but their words are lost. It was said, " Now that 
the hand is at the plough, there must be no looking back." 
At half-past four the motion passed that the tea should not 
be landed. The meeting was patient, orderly, and surprised 
strangers who viewed the scene. It refused to dissolve on 
the earnest request of many who desired that it should be 
continued until six o'clock. 

Meantime a band of forty or fifty met in a room in the 
rear of the printing-office of the " Boston Gazette," at the cor- 
ner of what are now Court and Brattle Streets. No authen- 
tic list of their names has appeared. Nothing is known of 
their organization. They were said that evening to have 
been Indians from Narragansett. " Whether," an observer 
wrote, " they were or not, they appeared as such, being 
clothed with blankets, with the heads muffled, and with 
copper -colored countenances, being each armed with a 
hatchet or axe, and a pair of pistols ; nor was their dialect 
different from what I conceive those geniuses to speak, as 
their jargon was unintelligible to all but themselves." 2 This 
indicates the nature of their preparation. Undoubtedly they 
acted with the knowledge of the committee of correspond- 
ence, and were awaiting the result of the meeting. The 

1 These remarks are copied from Gordon, i. 340, printed in London, 1788. 

2 John Andrews's letter, Dec. 19, 1773, in Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings, 1864-65, 
p. 26. 


preparation was sufficient to secure prompt and thorough 

In the afternoon Rotch was at Milton, the country seat of 
Governor Hutchinson. He went there to ask once more 
for a pass to enable his ship with the tea in her to get by the 
castle. The Governor inquired as to the intention of the 
people respecting the teas, and was informed that they meant 
to force them back to England. After a little time Hutchin- 
son sternly repeated his refusal to grant the pass, saying that 
he could not do it consistently with the rules of government 
and his duty to the king, unless the vessel was properly 
cleared. This answer closed the last opportunity for con- 
cession, which he unwisely declined. 

About six o'clock Rotch returned to the Old South, which 
was dimly lighted with candles and filled with people, many 
also standing in the streets. He stated the result of his 
application to the Governor for a pass. On slight manifes- 
tations of disorder, Thomas Young rose and said that Rotch 
was a good man who had done all that was in his power to 
gratify the people ; and they were enjoined to do no harm to 
his person or his property. He was then asked " whether 
he would send his vessel back with the tea in her, under the 
circumstances." He replied, " he could not possibly com- 
ply, as he apprehended compliance would prove his ruin ; " 
and confessed that, " if called upon by the proper officers, he 
should attempt, for his own security, to land the tea." 
Samuel Adams then said : " This meeting can do nothing 
more to save the country." A war-whoop was now sounded 
at the door, which was answered from the galleries. The 
shouting became tremendous. Silence was enjoined. The 
meeting was declared by the moderator dissolved, when there 
was another general shout out of doors and in, and three cheers. 
A citizen, who on endeavoring to enter could get no further 
than the porch, says: "What with that, and the subsequent 
noise of breaking up the meeting, you would have thought that 


the -inhabitants of the infernal regions had broke loose." 1 As 
the party from whom rose the war-whoop passed the church, 
numbers naturally followed on ; and the throng went directly 
to Griffin's Wharf, now Liverpool, at the foot of Purchase 
Street, off which were moored the three vessels which con- 
tained the tea. A resolute band had guarded them day and 
night. John Hancock was one of the guard this evening. 
The party in disguise, probably his friend Joseph Warren 
was among them, whooping like Indians, went on board the 
vessels, and, warning their officers and those of the custom- 
house to keep out of the way, unlaid the hatches, hoisted the 
chests of tea on deck, cut them open, and hove the tea over- 
board. They proved quiet and systematic workers. No 
one interfered with them. No other property was injured ; 
no person was harmed ; no tea was allowed to be carried 
away ; and the silence of the crowd on shore was such that 
the noise of breaking the chests was distinctly heard by them. 
"The whole," Hutchinson wrote, u was done with very little 
tumult." The town was never more still of a Saturday night 
than it was at ten o'clock tha,t evening. The men from the 
country carried great news to their villages. 2 

Joy, as for deliverance from calamity, now burst in full 
chorus from the American heart. 

The local exultation was extreme. " You cannot imag- 
ine," Samuel Adams wrote, "the height of joy that sparkles 
in the eyes and animates the countenances as well as the 
hearts of all we meet on this occasion." 3 " This," John 
Adams said, " is the most magnificent movement of all. 

1 John Andrews. Dec. 19, 1773. He was summoned, by "prodigious" shouting, 
from his tea-table ; could get no further than the porch ; heard the moderator declare 
the meeting dissolved, and then returned home and finished his supper. On being 
informed of what was going on, he went again. He saw the disguise of the party, 
and was told they numbered two hundred, a larger number than any other 
authority gives. The usual statement is forty or fifty. 

2 Joseph Warren bore a part in the series of meetings, public and private, held in 
Boston in relation to the importation of the tea; and the narrative of their events in 
the "Life and Times of Warren" occupies fifty pages. 

a Letter, Dec. 31. 


There is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort 
of the patriots, that I greatly admire." l " We," John Scol- 
lay, one of the selectmen and an actor, wrote, " do console 
ourselves that we have acted constitutionally," 2 namely, 
did no more than was necessary, under the circumstances, to 
defeat the design of landing the teas. 

The exultation was scarcely less outside of Massachusetts. 
In New York " vast numbers of the people collected, and 
highly extolled the Bostonians." s In Philadelphia the bells 
were rung, a large public meeting voted " the most perfect 
approbation, with universal huzzas ; " and subsequently, when 
five thousand people met, they " returned their hearty thanks 
to the people of Boston for their resolution in destroying the 
tea, rather than suffering it to be landed." 4 A letter from 
North Carolina contained the assurance " that the deed was 
the only remedy left to save the colonies from destined 
slavery, and that the actors, beside the satisfaction arising 
from a conscientious discharge of duty due to posterity, had 
the approbation of the whole continent." 5 It was the boldest 
stroke that had been struck in the controversy between the 
colonies and the mother-country ; and bold measures in the 
right direction are sure to be popular. As events developed, 
some of the Whigs hesitated to approve this deed, and some 
counselled the payment of the value of the property de- 
stroyed ; while the Tories condemned it in unmeasured 
terms. In a deliberate review of the train of events leading 
to it, Gordon says that the deed was necessary to save 

1 Diary, Dec. 17, 1773. Works, ii. 323. 

2 John Scollay to Arthur Lee, Dec. 23, 1773. 

3 "Boston Gazette," Jan. 3, 1774, which says the bells of the town were rung 
on receiving the intelligence from New York. 

4 "Boston Gazette," Jan. 10, 1774, after William Palfrey had returned. 

5 The "Boston Gazette," of March 28, 1774, has an extract from a letter of a 
gentleman of distinction in North Carolina, dated Pitt, Feb. 18, 1774: "I read with 
much satisfaction the account of the destruction of the tea, as it was, I think, the 
only remedy left to rescue the colonies from their destined slavery. You labor under 
some difficulties more than your neighbors; but the satisfaction of a conscientious 
discharge of the duty you owe to posterity, together with the approbation of the 
whole continent of your conduct, is a sufficient reward." 


the union ; and Dr. Ramsay, going deeper, gives the judg- 
ment that, if the American position was right in relation to 
taxation, the destruction of the tea was warranted by the 
great law of self-preservation : " for it was not possible for 
them by any other means, within the compass of probability, 
to discharge the duty they owed to their country." 1 The 
important " if" of Ramsay is disposed of by the judgment 
of the liberal world. Even British writers concede that the 
claim of Americans was right beyond question. 

The Tea Act had the effect to make this question of taxa- 
tion a living issue. The opposition to the British assumption 
in relation to it, as before remarked, was spontaneous, gen- 
eral, irresistible. " Popular movements have commonly been 
ascribed to the principal actors in them as to their authors ; 
but the utmost that can be accomplished by individuals, in 
such cases, is merely to avail themselves of a happy predis- 
position in the public mind, to give form and consistency to 
loose opinions, and to bring to the aid of an infant sect or 
party the weight of talent, learning, and character, or station. 
They may thus strengthen and direct the current." 2 The 
popular leaders now sought to give direction to a great 
movement ; or to take advantage of a happy disposition in 
the public mind and extend the organization of committees 
of correspondence. 

The assemblies in doing this acted on the original invita- 
tion of the House of Burgesses, and generally used the words 
of their resolves in specifying the object sought. The 
Georgia assembly chose in September, when the people were 
engaged in carrying on a war against the savages ; the 

1 " Had the tea been landed, the union of the colonies in opposing the ministerial 
schemes would have been dissolved ; and it would have been extremely difficult ever 
after to have restored it." Gordon, i. 342. 

"Admitting the rectitude of the American claims of exemption from parliamentary 
taxation, the destruction of the tea by Bostonians was warranted by the great law 
of self-preservation ; for it was not possible for them by any other means, within the 
compass of probability, to discharge the duty they owed to their country." Ramsay's 
History of American Revolution, i. 121. 

2 Brodie's History of the British Empire, i. 48. 


Maryland assembly chose in October, when the internal 
dissension occasioned by the Proclamation controversy had 
hardly subsided, saying in their Circular that they were 
sensible of the great utility of a union of the colonies ; 
the Delaware assembly also chose this month ; the North- 
Carolina assembly chose in December ; and the New- York 
and New-Jersey assemblies chose in February. The assem- 
blies returned warm thanks to the House of Burgesses " for 
their early attention to the liberties of America." Their 
committees did not hold a conference during the winter of 
1773-74, or mature a plan for joint action, or do more than 
exchange a few letters ; and the only references I have 
met, in this limited correspondence, to the issue raised by 
the Tea Act, are those contained in the letters of the com- 
mittees of Massachusetts and Connecticut, already cited 
in the narrative. 1 

1 The dates of the choice of committees of correspondence by six assemblies have 
been given. See note, p. 284. 

The Georgia "commons" chose Sept. 10, 1773, and were "the speaker and any 
five of the committee of correspondence." The letter to the House of Burgesses, 
dated Nov. 20. was signed by William Young, Noble Wimberly Jones, Joseph Clay, 
D. Zubley. Jr., William Coutts. A public meeting, July 27, 1774, chose a commit- 
tee which McCall (History of Georgia, 2) terms the formation of the Republican party. 
This meeting was denounced by a Proclamation of Governor Wright. 

The Maryland assembly chose a committee October 15, 1773 ; viz., Matthew 
Tighlman, John Hall, Thomas Johnson, William Paca, Samuel Chase, Edward 
Lloyd, Matthias Hammond, Josiah Beale, James Lloyd Chamberlaine, Brice Thomas, 
Beale Worthington, Joseph Sim, or any six. The letter to the Burgesses communi- 
cating the choice is dated Dec. 6, 1773. It is stated in the "Essex Gazette " of Feb. 
11, 1774, that this assembly had come into resolves similar to those of the other 

The Delaware assembly chose a committee Oct. 23, 1773. The members who 
signed the reply to the Burgesses were the speaker, Caezar Rodney, George Read, 
Thomas McKean, John McKinley, and Thomas Robeson. The announcement of 
the choice of a committee is in the "Massachusetts Gazette" of Nov. 8. 

North-Carolina assembly chose Dec. 8, 1773. The committee were "John 
Harvey, Mr. Howe, Mr. Harnett, Mr. Hooper, Mr. CasAvell, Mr. Vail, Mr. Ash, Mr. 
Hewes, and Samuel Johnston. The answer to the Burgesses is dated Dec. 26, and is 
signed by John Harvey. The fact of the choice of the committee is stated in the 
"Massachusetts Gazette," Feb. 21, 1774. 

The New- York assembly chose a committee Jan. 20, 1774. It is stated in the 
"Essex Gazette," Feb. 17, that this committee consisted of the speaker and twelve 
other members. The reply to the Burgesses is dated March 1. The names given 
are John Cruger, James De Laucy, James Janney, Jacob Walton, Benjamin Sea- 


The popular party, in their several municipalities, pro- 
ceeded independently in forming committees. The earliest 
towns named in the newspapers as choosing were Dover, 
Exeter, and Newcastle, in New Hampshire. They reiterated 
in spirited resolves the sentiment that taxation without 
representation was slavery, and approved of " the noble 
struggles of the opulent colonies" to avert so great "a 
catastrophe." So general was this movement that it was 
said in the press that the manly and patriotic proceedings 
of the people of the province would convince all that " they 
were American freemen, and were fired with the glorious 
spirit of freedom which lightens this Western World." 1 
Several towns in Rhode Island, among which were Provi- 
dence and Newport, chose committees, as did also a meeting 
in New York, at which John Lamb presided. These com- 
mittees and others entered into correspondence relative to 
the tea importation. 

The resistance to the ministerial scheme in this way was 
general, systematic, and thorough. The newspapers contain 
much matter relative to the reception of the cargoes at the 
ports to which the tea was consigned. In Philadelphia, at 
an hour's notice, five thousand met, and resolved that a 
cargo should not be landed, but should go back in the same 
bottom. The captain and the consignees bowed to the pop- 
ular will, and a vast concourse escorted them to the tea ship 
and saw her sail. In New York it was announced in the 
Tory organ that arrangements were made to have the tea 
sent back in the same ship, and thus New York be secured 
" a succession of that blessed tranquillity which they enjoyed 
under the present wise and serene administration." 2 In 

man, Isaac Wilkins, Frederick Phillips, Daniel Kissam, Zebulon Seaman, John 
Rapalse, Simeon Boerum, John De Noyelles, and George Clinton, or any seven. 

The New-Jersey assembly chose a committee Feb. 8, 1774 ; namely, James Kinsey, 
Stephen Crane, Hendrick Fisher, Samuel Tucker, John Wetherell, Robert Friend 
Price, John Hinchman, John Mehelm, and Edward Taylor. Gordon's New Jersey, 

The Pennsylvania assembly did not choose a committee. 

1 Essex Gazette, Jan. 18, 1774. 

2 Rivingston Gazette, copied into "Massachusetts Gazette," Jan. 3, 1772. 


Charleston a great meeting on the arrival of the cargo ap- 
pointed a committee, on which were Christopher Gadsden, 
Charles Pinckney, and Charles Colesworth Pinckney, to 
inform the captain that the teas must go back ; but the ship 
was delayed beyond the twenty days, when the collector 
seized the vessel and stored the tea in a damp cellar, where 
it was destroyed. There were similar dealings with the 
teas in other places. The scheme was thoroughly defeated. 
The unity of spirit and harmony of action of the popular 
party once more excited the liveliest hopes. Samuel Adams, 
reflecting on the increasing intercourse between the colonies, 
remarked that old jealousies had been removed, and harmony 
subsisted between them, and also that the institution of 
committees of correspondence would be attended with great 
and good consequences. 1 The friend always by his side, 
Joseph Warren, enthusiastic over the prospect of union, 
wrote : " We can never enough adore that Almighty Disposer 
who has, as it were, by general inspiration awakened a whole 
continent to a sense of their danger." 2 The ardent hoped to 
see a congress grow out of the movement. This measure was 
earnestly advocated in the press. " It is now time," a writer 
says, " for the colonies to have a grand congress to complete 
the system for the American independent commonwealth, as 
it is so evident that no other plan will secure the rights of 
this people ; for this would unite all Americans by an indis- 
soluble bond of union, and thereby make them formidable 
and superior to any kingdom upon earth." 3 

1 Letter to James Warren, Dec. 28, 1773. The "Boston Gazette" of Jan. 10, 
1774, says: "The united spirit of the people of South Carolina, Philadelphia, New 
York, this Province, &c., in opposing the subtle design of the British administration, 
to make the East-India Company the instruments in establishing the revenue and 
thus enslaving the continent, forebodes a happy union of counsels among the several 
colonies by means of their committees of correspondence." 

2 Letter, Jan. 24, 1774, in " Life and Times of Warren," 290. 

8 This citation is from a piece in the "Boston Evening Post" of March 14, 1774. 
It recommends that in future the colonies should " proffer petitions to none but the 
King of Heaven." It concludes as follows: 

" It is now time for the colonies to have a Grand Congress to complete the system for 
the American Independent Commonwealth, as it is so evident that no other plan will 


Tliis line of remark suggesting an American common- 
wealth, indulged in by a few, constituted the material used 
by the euemies of the American cause to prove that the 
popular leaders really aimed at independence and were 
hypocrites in denying it. They, however, in defeating the 
execution of the Tea Act had accomplished their object. If 
the protestations of the most prominent among them, includ- 
ing Samuel Adams and Washington, if the resolves of 
public meetings and of general assemblies , be accepted as 
authentic revelations of what may be properly termed public 
opinion, then it may be inferred that the great body of the 
people would have welcomed the repeal of the duty on tea 
and the Declaratory Act with bursts of joy like those which 
greeted the repeal of the Stamp Act. Indeed the hope was 
general that the desire of the two countries to keep together, 
the inherent justice of the claim of the Americans to equal 
rights, their triumphant reasoning in behalf of their cause, 
and more than all their union, resolution, and increasing 
power, would affect public opinion in England to such a 
degree as to bring about a change of administration and a 
reversal of the Bute policy, and thus restore harmony. 1 

The expression in favor of a congress produced no regular 
call for the election of delegates during the spring of 1774. 
The journals for months after the complete defeat of the 
execution of the Tea Act show little political agitation out- 
side of Massachusetts. Here the issue respecting the 

secure the rights of this people from rapacious and plotting tyrants. I have been 
assured, from good authority, that many patriots, for several years past, have turned 
their attention to this grand affair of an American commonwealth, and that a system 
is nearly complete, which will unite all Americans by an indissoluble bond of union, 
and thereby make them formidable and superior to any kingdom upon earth. Let the 
Americans feel their importance, act like freemen, trust in Heaven, and fear none of 
the sons of Adam." 

1 John Scollay, one of the Boston selectmen, May 31, 1774, wrote to Arthur Lee : 
" We have too great a regard for our parent state (although cruelly treated by some 
of her illegitimate sons) to withdraw our connection. Of her we have no idea of an 
independency." . . . And he hoped the wisdom of both countries would "fix on 
some principles for each party to resort to as the great charter of agreement between 
the king and his colonies." 


salaries of local officers occasioned a sharp struggle, and an 
impeachment of the chief justice because he accepted his 
salary from the crown. Whatever local importance however 
this question assumed, it did not move the people of the 
other colonies. Even here the agitation was limited. " I 
am of the same opinion," John Adams wrote, " that I have 
been for years, that there is not spirit enough on either side 
to bring the question to a complete decision. . . . Our chil- 
dren may see revolutions, and be concerned and active in 
effecting them, of which we can form no conception." 1 
Jefferson says that the Virginians relapsed into lethargy. 2 
Joseph Reed in Philadelphia reviewed elaborately the whole 
field in remarkable letters addressed to Lord Dartmouth, 
and he now wrote : "I know of no cloud arising in our 
political hemisphere unless our conduct respecting the tea 
should produce one." 3 

Samuel Adams apprehended the situation. His utterances 
show that he hoped rather than expected that the ministers 
would alter their policy ; and in the case of their persistence 
in it, he saw as a consequence no other result than separation 
and independence. Still his record as clearly shows that, 
so far from welcoming the bloody work of revolution, he 
involuntarily shrunk from it. He continued for a year to 
express warm affection for the mother-country. He stood, 
however, firm in his conviction of what public duty demanded. 
It was in vain to expect that the people would be contented 
with partial or temporary relief, or be amused with court 
promises. Their opposition to unconstitutional measures 
had grown into system ; colony communed freely with col- 
ony ; there was among the colonies a common affection, 
the communis sensus ; the whole continent had become 
united in sentiment and in opposition to tyranny. However, 
the old good- will and affection for the parent country was 

1 Letter, April 9, 1776, in Works, ii. 337. 

2 Memoirs of Jefferson, i. 5. Ed. 1830. 

Letter, April 4, 1774. Reed's Reed, i. 58. 


not lost: if she returned to her former moderation, the 
former love would return; for the people wanted nothing 
more than permanent union with her on the condition of 
equal liberty. This is all they had for ten years been con- 
tending for, and nothing short of this would or ought to 
satisfy them. 1 This was his position stated in his own 
words. It was a defensive one. He had faith in the repub- 
lican idea; appreciated the value of its embodiment in 
American institutions ; sought their preservation ; and for 
their protection would have been satisfied with the national 
power which grandly met the natural sentiment of country. 
As the reports came that the government was maturing severe 
penal measures, and that fleets and armies were to be sent 
over to enforce them, his faith in God and his countrymen 
rose. " It is our duty," he wrote, " at all hazards to pre- 
serve the public liberty. Righteous Heaven will graciously 
smile on e,very manly and rational attempt to secure that 
best of all gifts to man from the ravishing hand of lawless 
and brutal power." 2 This was not a type of the sentimen- 
talism which has its origin in dreams, and naturally lands in 
Utopia, but was a type of the integrity of character and pur- 
pose, which were the springs of the wise counsels and the 
great action that led to the formation of the republic. 

The period of suspense terminated during the first week in 
May, when the newspapers became burdened with details 
shewing the feeling roused in England by the destruction of 
the tea. It was pronounced by the king a subversion of the 
Constitution ; by Lord North, the culmination of years of riot 
and confusion ; by parliament, actual rebellion flowing from 

1 Letter, March 31, 1774, drawn up by Samuel Adams for the legislative commit- 
tee of correspondence, and signed by himself, John Hancock, William Phillips, and 
William Heath, and addressed to Franklin. S. A. Wells's MS. Life of Adams, ii. 
485, has this letter. It is, with a few sentences wanting, in the Massachusetts papers 
of the Seventy-Six Society. 

2 Samuel Adams to James Warren, March 31, 1774, MSS. The "Massachu- 
setts Gazette," April 25, 1774, has the following letter from London, dated Feb. 15: 
" $ix ships of war and seven regiments are ordered to America with all expedition; 
for what purpose time must discover." 


ideas of independence. The opposition bowed to the storm. 
Lord Chatham uttered rebuke, and Colonel Barr6 conceded 
the necessity of punishment. Lord Dartmouth was the 
most moderate in his speech, terming the proceeding a 
commotion, but was anxious that the offenders should be 
punished. The bold stroke of the Boston patriots stirred 
an intense nationality into an energy, that, like a hurricane, 
swept before it men and parties. The words, often cited, of 
the arrogant, insolent, and galling Venn, were then uttered 
and circulated through the colonies : " The offence of the 
Americans is flagitious : the town of Boston ought to be 
knocked about their ears and destroyed. Delenda est 
Carthago. You will never meet with proper obedience to 
the laws of this country until you have destroyed that nest 
of locusts." These words embodied the feeling of England 
in an hour of her insolence. 1 

The ministers blundered, as usual, in meeting this issue. 
They proceeded as though they had to deal only with 
Boston and Massachusetts. It had long been a theory that 
the law of diversity was so deeply rooted and so paramount 
in its influence, that anything like real political unity among 
the colonies would be impossible. Hutchinson accepted 
this theory. General Gage, the commander of the British 
army in America, having his eye over the whole field, 
judged that the chance was small of the Bostonians getting 
more than fair words from the other colonies ; and, fresh 
from America, assured the king, in a personal interview, that 
four regiments stationed in Boston would prevent any dis- 
turbance. The king reports him even as saying, " They 
will be lions while we are lambs ; but if we take the resolute 
part, they will prove very meek," a saying which the king 
thought worth sending to Lord North. 2 It was reasoned : 

1 Venn's words are in the " Massachusetts Gazette " of May 19, 1774. Governor 
Johnstone, one of the Peace Commission of 1778, in a private letter dated June 10, 
to Henry Laurens, the President of Congress, said: "If you should follow the ex- 
ample of England in the hour of her insolence," &c Annual Register, xxi. 338. 

2 Donne's Correspondence of George III., i. 164. 


The other colonies will not take fire at the proper punish- 
ment of those who have disobeyed the laws. They will 
leave them to suffer for their own offences ; 1 the shutting 
up of the port will be naturally a gratification to the neigh- 
boring towns ; the other colonies will accept with pleasure 
any benefits they can derive from the misfortunes of Massa- 
chusetts ; the policy of singling out this colony will event- 
ually prove a means of dissolving the bond of union. 2 

The king on the 7th of March, 1774, in messages to both 
Houses, recommended to their serious consideration the 
proceedings in America elicited by the Tea Act, and partic- 
ularly the destruction of the tea in Boston. The messages 
were accompanied with a mass of papers relating to this 
matter. 3 It was left to parliament to say what measures 
were necessary to secure the execution of the laws and 
the just dependence of the colonies ; but Lord North sub- 
mitted no plan. Lord Thurloe, -impatient for coercion, 
said loud enough to reach the ears of the minister, " I 
never heard any thing so impudent: he has no plan yet 
ready." An address to the king, however, was promptly 
agreed upon, expressing thanks for the gracious commu- 
nication that day made to parliament ; and in the evening 
the king wrote to Lord North : " It is carrying a very 
material point, the ordering an address without a divis- 
ion, and gives a degree of weight to the subsequent steps 
that will be taken 011 this business in the House of Com- 
mons." 4 The steps alluded to were the famous series of 
penal measures. 

The first of this series, the Boston Port Bill, was moved 
by Lord North on the 14th of March. It passed in about 

1 Annual Register, vol. xvii. 64. 

2 Ibid., vol. xviii. 2. 

8 The particulars of the destruction of the tea were received in London by the 
New- York mail on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 1774, and were printed in the London 
papers of Jan. 21, and in the "Edinburgh Advertiser" of Jan. 25. There were no 
comments. The ministers waited for the arrival of official despatches. 

* Donne's Letters of George III., i. 173. 


two weeks through the various 'stages, with very little 
debate. On its second reading without division, the king 
wrote that the fact " was so favorable to the measure that 
he could not refrain from expressing the pleasure it gave 
him ; " and thought that " the feebleness and fatuity of the 
opposition shewed the rectitude of the measure." l Words of 
soberness and truth, even of prophecy, were spoken in the 
debate against the bill, in both Houses, but there were no 
divisions. The anxious eyes of a patriot and a great 
statesman followed the "mad and cruel measure." "Rep- 
aration," Lord Chatham wrote, " ought first to be demanded 
in a solemn manner, and refused by the town and magistracy 
of Boston, before such a bill of pains and penalties can be 
called just ; " but, he remarked, perhaps a fatal desire had 
taken possession of the heart of the government to take 
advantage of a tumult in order to crush the spirit of liberty 
among the Americans. 2 ' It is recorded on the journals of 
both Houses that the bill passed unanimously. It received 
the royal assent on the 31st of March, and then became a 
law. It provided for a discontinuance of the landing of all 
merchandise whatever in, or the shipping from the town or 
harbor of Boston on and after the first day of June ; consti- 
tuted Marblehead a port of entry, and Salem the seat of 
government. This state of things was to continue until 
certain conditions should be complied with, one being 
that the owners of the property that was destroyed should 
be indemnified. It was officially announced that an army 
and a fleet would be employed to enforce the Act. 

This Act was received by separate arrivals at New York 
and Boston, 3 and was circulated with wonderful rapidity 

1 Donne's Letters of George III., i. 176. 

2 Correspondence of the Earl of Chatham, iv. 336. 

3 The Boston Port Act was received here on the 10th of May, and the "Massa- 
chusetts Gazette" of May 12 has it in full, with the following heading: "Tuesday 
arrived here Captain Shayler, in a brig from London, who brought the most interest- 
ing and important advices that ever was received at the port of Boston." The Act 
was received in New York, May 12, by Captain Couper, twenty-seven days from 
London. "We want language to express our abhorrence," a New-York letter of 
the 14th says, printed in the "Boston Gazette." 


from these 'centres through the colonies. It spoke for itself. 
It doomed a town to suffer for a deed which had been wel- 
comed in every quarter with manifestations of joy. Pathetic 
appeal, or party manipulation, or personal influence, was not 
required to rouse a general indignation. This welled up 
instinctively from the American heart, and was expressed 
in every form. The Act was printed on paper with" mourn- 
ing lines; it was cried tlirough the streets as barbarous 
murder ; it was burnt by the common hangman on scaffolds 
forty-five feet high. The feeling that it was unjust and in- 
human was expressed in passionate words. "Join or die," 
a terse Rhode-Island utterance reads: " the insult to our vir- 
tuous brethren ought to be viewed in the same odious light as 
a direct hostile invasion of every province on the continent." 
Thus the patriots gave themselves up to impulses that honor 
human nature. The Act was a failure from the moment of 
its promulgation. 

The Boston committee of correspondence invited the 
committees of eight neighboring towns to meet for deliber- 
ation in Faneuil Hall. Men in that conference (May 12) 
took part in the counsels or the battles of the whole 
subsequent struggle. Samuel Adams presided, and Joseph 
Warren drew up its papers. The conference addressed a 
circular to the committees in all the colonies, recommending 
a suspension of trade with Great Britain, suggesting that the 
single question was whether the other colonies would con- 
sider Boston as suffering for the common cause, and resent 
the injury inflicted on her, and promising fidelity to the 
rights of America. On the next day a town meeting was 
held in Faneuil Hall, with Samuel Adams for the moderator. 
The inhabitants addressed (May 13) a circular " to all the 
sister colonies, promising to suffer for America with fortitude, 
but confessing that singly they must find their trial too 
severe : " they entreated not to be left alone when the being of 
every colony as a free people depended on the event ; and they 
also proposed, as the means to obtain redress, commercial 



non-intercourse. The hall could not contain the numbers 
who attended, and many stood outside until its close. Ex- 
presses were sent to Salem and Marblehead, to New York 
and to Philadelphia, with letters to the patriots. The 
legislative committee were directed by the House to send 
the Port Act to the other colonies, and to call immediate 
attention to it as " an act designed to suppress the spirit of 
liberty in America." The committee in performing this 
duty (May 28) said : " We think the archives of Constanti- 
nople might be in vain searched for a parallel. To reason 
upon such an act would be idleness. You will doubtless 
judge every British American colony deeply concerned in it, 
and contemplate and, determine upon it accordingly." Thus 
the patriots acted through their varied organizations in a 
spirit of order, and with promptness, dignity, and efficiency. 
The reception of these circulars was the occasion for 
memorable proceedings, which have often been related, but 
which ought not to be omitted in any narrative of these 
times. The inhabitants of Marblehead tendered the use of 
their wharves to the, Bostonians, one of their number, 
Elbridge Gerry, the future Yice-President, saying that the 
resentment of an arbitrary ministry would prove a diadem of 
honor to the oppressed town. The merchants of Newbury- 
port voted to break off trade with Great Britain, and lay up 
their ships until the port should be opened. Salem, in an 
address to Governor Gage, drawn up by Timothy Pickering, 
the future Secretary of State, averred that they must be lost 
to all feelings of humanity to raise their fortunes on the 
ruins of their neighbor. The same spirit was manifested in 
the other New-England colonies. The Connecticut assem- 
bly appointed a day for humiliation and prayer, and ordered 
an inventory to be taken of cannon and military stores. 
Providence, in Rhode Island, resolved that all the colonies 
were concerned in the Port Act, and recommended a con- 
gress. Portsmouth, in New Hampshire, declared that the 
administration were taking every method to disunite the col- 


onies, but hoped their firm union would continue. The 
sentiment and determination of the patriots south of New 
England were represented in the proceedings of the Virginia 
House of Burgesses. On the reception of the news of the 
Port Act, all business gave way to the generous purpose to 
stand by Massachusetts. In resolves penned by Jefferson, 
they set apart the first day of June as a day of fasting and 
prayer, to invoke the divine interposition to give to the 
American people one heart and one mind to oppose by all 
just means every injury to American rights, and to inspire 
the minds of His Majesty and his parliament with wisdom, 
moderation, and justice. These resolves brought down a 
dissolution ; and before others, proposing a congress, could be 
passed. 1 The members then repaired to the Raleigh Tavern, 
where they declared that an attack made on one of the sister 
colonies was an attack on all British America, and threat- 
ened ruin to the rights of all, unless the united wisdom of 
the whole were applied ; and they recommended the com- 
mittee of correspondence to communicate with the other 
committees on the expediency of holding an annual congress. 
Two days later the circulars from the north were received, 
when the Burgesses who remained in Williamsburg 
Washington was one appointed a convention, consisting 
of representatives of all the counties, to meet on the first 
day of August. 2 

1 The House of Burgesses had before them on the 24th of May a resolve provid- 
ing for the call of a congress, and were dissolved the next morning. The resolve is 
in the " Boston Gazette " of June 20. The Massachusetts assembly convened on 
the 25th of May. Samuel Adams was about to introduce resolves for a congress 
when the assembly (26th) was adjourned by the Governor to meet in Salem on the 
7th of June. 

2 The "Essex Gazette " of June 28 has the following, showing the feeling south of 
Virginia : " Charleston, South Carolina, June 6. Last Tuesday morning a packet was 
received here from a very respectable committee at Philadelphia, enclosing letters from 
other committees, and contained the first intelligence of the passing of an act of par- 
liament for blocking up the harbor of Boston, which, if we may judge from the indig- 
nation with which it is everywhere received, will prove the cruellest policy that ever 
disgraced the British senate, and be the very means to perfect that union in America 
which it was intended to destroy." 


This noble action, embodying the passion and humanity of 
a rich historic hour, was a fitting prelude to the spectacle 
which the colonies presented on the day (June 1) the Port 
Act went into effect. A cordon of British men-of-war was 
moored around the town of Boston. Not a keel nor a raft 
was permitted to approach the wharves. The wheels of 
commerce were stopped. The poor were deprived of employ- 
ment. The rich were cut off from their usual resources. 
The town entered upon its period of suffering. The day was 
widely observed as a day of fasting and prayer. The mani- 
festations of sympathy were general. Business was sus- 
pended. Bells were muffled, and tolled from morning till 
night ; flags were kept at half-mast ; streets were dressed in 
mourning ; public buildings and shops were draped in black ; 
large congregations filled the churches. In Virginia the 
members of the House of Burgesses assembled at their place 
of meeting ; went in procession, with the Speaker at their 
head, to the church and listened to a discourse. " Never," 
a lady wrote, " since my residence in Virginia have I seen 
so large a congregation as was this day assembled to hear 
divine service." l The preacher selected for his text the 
words : " Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be 
afraid of them ; for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go 
with thee. He will not fail thee nor forsake thee." "The 
people," Jefferson says, " met generally, with anxiety and 
alarm in their countenances ; and the effect of the day, through 
the whole colony, was like a shock of electricity, arousing 
every man and placing him erect and solidly on his centre." 2 
These words describe the effect of the Port Act throughout 
the thirteen colonies. 

This train of events served to fix again all eyes 011 Boston. 
It was now required to be patient under suffering, to show 

1 Letters dated Williamsburg, June 1, 1774, in "Edinburgh Advertiser," July 
26. An excellent letter from one of the Burgesses, dated June 4, is printed in this 
paper of Aug. 2, and the whole proceedings in the issue of Aug. 5. 

2 Jefferson Memoir, p. 6. 


forbearance under insult, and to be faithful to the cause in 
the face of danger. The feeling among its citizens was 
bitter, intense, and up to the verge of civil war. The Tories 
taunted the Whigs with following a set of reckless dema- 
gogues, who professed loyalty, but aimed at independence. 
They had brought down upon the town its calamity, and 
would be sent to England and expiate their crimes at Tyburn. 
The Whigs, as they directed public odium in every way on 
the Tories, averred that nothing was further from their 
hearts than a spirit of rebellion, and continued their confi- 
dence in a noble band of leaders. They were guiding a 
great movement with uncommon wisdom. The militia were 
not called out to resist the landing of the troops daily ex- 
pected ; the British fleet were not cannonaded from guns 
planted on the surrounding hills ; the idea was not acted on, 
if it was suggested by the rash, of declaring independence, 
unfurling the Pine Tree flag, and entering upon a Quixotic 
crusade against England. The town bore its burden with 
dignity, and based its hope of deliverance on union. In a 
short time regiments from famous battle-fields landed unmo- 
lested on its soil ; hostile cannon were planted on its emi- 
nences and at the single outlet into the country ; troops daily 
paraded its streets, and the place wore the aspect of a garrison. 
Details of the petty annoyance to which its citizens were sub- 
jected were printed from time to time in the journals. The 
strange spectacle touched the feelings of the patriots. Their 
admiration was raised by the genuine pluck evinced by the 
Bostonians in going on with their political action under the 
mouths of hostile cannon, and when this was in derogation 
of an act of parliament. The action had not been bolder when 
the town was free from troops. Thus the brave municipality 
stood manfully for the cause, exciting warm sympathy, in- 
tense interest, and the gravest apprehension. 

The suggestion appeared in several quarters simultaneously 
that contributions should be tendered for the relief of such 
of the indigent as might be sufferers by the operation of the 


Port Act ; it was approved and urged in the press, the pul- 
pit, public meetings, and general assemblies ; and was so 
promptly carried out that soon there was a flow from every 
quarter of cereals, live stock, provisions, wood, and money 
into Boston. The fraternal movement bore directly on the 
individual. The ardent and zealous workers in the cause in 
hundreds of localities, forming a circle more or less wide, 
went from door to door, from street to street, as they gath- 
ered the patriotic offerings ; and the talk in the shop, on the 
farm, in the commercial mart, in the home, would naturally 
be of acts of power full of injustice, of violated liberty, of 
patriots suffering for the cause. The names of contributors 
in some places are still to be seen. The list in Fairfax 
County, Virginia, has at its head the name of George Wash- 
ington for fifty pounds. The committees accompanied the 
gifts with letters laden with the deepest sympathy, and, as 
sterner events unfolded, as will be seen in the next chap- 
ter, with the most solemn pledges of support. A few sen- 
tences, selected from the earliest, will suffice here to show 
this fraternal spirit : " We feel the heavy hand of power, 
and claim a share of your sufferings." u Depend upon it we 
will further assist you with provisions and men if you need 
it."- "Our people are open and generous, firm and resolute 
in the cause of liberty ; hope the people of Boston remain firm 
and steady." " Hold on and hold out to the last. As you 
are placed in the front rank, if you fail all will be over." 
" Give us leave to entreat, to beg, to conjure you, by every 
thing that is dear, by every thing that is sacred, by the ven- 
erable names of our pious forefathers, who suffered, who 
bled in the defence of liberty, not to desert the cause in this 
trying crisis." " Stand firm, and let your intrepid courage 
show to the world that you are Christians." These words 
were born of generous impulses and a noble enthusiasm. 
They revealed the fact that, beneath the diversity that char- 
acterized the colonies, there was American unity. The 
deeds they heralded were the blossoming of a rare public 


life, but the spirit was greater than the deeds. The blow 
dealt on Boston, like a wound on a single nerve, convulsed 
the whole body. 1 

The popular party were now enabled to prepare for the 
work in store for them by extending their organization and 
interchanging sentiments. They in every quarter chose 
committees of correspondence, sometimes in public meetings, 
as in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, but very gen- 
erally in meetings regularly called of the freeholders and 
other inhabitants of the parishes, towns, and counties, after 
the way of the town of Boston. It was remarked by John 
Adams, that " every city, county, hundred, and town on the 
continent" adopted the measure he almost said, as if it 
had been "a revelation from above as the happiest means 
of cementing the union : " he added that the organization 
was actuated " by one great, wise, and noble spirit, one 
masterly soul animating one vigorous body." 2 This was 
more enthusiastic than exact. The Canadas continued 
meanly to hold back ; some of the towns in the original 
thirteen colonies did not choose committees ; and here and 
there a town, after the choice, faltered and dismissed its 
committee. 3 The opposition to the organization attempted 

1 The "Boston Gazette" of July 11, 1774, has the following, which illustrates 
the spirit of the times: 


'Tis an old and just observation that professions cost nothing; 'tis equally true 
that when a man parts with his money in support of any cause, he evidences himself 
to be in earnest. I cannot but reverence my fellow-countrymen, dispersed through 
this and the other governments, for their liberal and unsolicited contributions to support 
the poor and suffering people of Boston during the present conflict. What amiable 
charity! What glorious magnanimity is here displayed! Shall such a race of patriots, 
shall such a band of friends, be ever subdued? No, my persecuted brethren of this 
metropolis, you may rest assured that the guardian God of New England, who holds 
the hearts of his people in his hands, has influenced your distant brethren to this 
benevolence. 'Tis a glorious pledge of that harmony, that unison of sentiment and 
action, which shall connect such a band of heroes, as to make a world combined 
against them to tremble. Cultivate this rich, this fruitful blessing, an extensive 
union: when once 'tis effected, it will intimidate your enemies, will animate your 
friends, will convince them both that you must be invincible, and thus you will obtain 
a bloodless victory. G. 

2 Novanglus. John Adams, in the " Boston Gazette," dated Feb. 6, 1775. 

8 I have a list of the dates of the formation of municipal committees in several of 



to da this in Boston in a town meeting ; but, after a debate 
of two days, they were signally defeated. This proceeding 
elicited a generous recognition of the labors of the Boston 
committee in an address from Rhode Island. "Your faith- 
ful services," it said, " have endeared you to the wise and 
good of every colony. Continue your indefatigable labors 
in the common cause, and you will soon see the happy success 
of them in the salvation of your country." l It is doing no 
injustice to other members of the committee to say that its 
records show Joseph Warren and Samuel Adams indefati- 
gable in its labors. 

The Tories wrote much about this organization in the press. 
They said, in describing the formation of the committees, that 
at first resolutions, drawn up by zealous partisans, were offered 
in public meetings ; then, the orator mounted the rostrum, 
and exerted his powers of eloquence to heat his audience with 
the blaze of patriotism with which he conceived himself in- 
spired ; and that from this fountain originated their authority. 
" It is a fountain," the writer said, " from which no legal 
authority can be derived : we know not where such prece- 
dents may terminate. Setting up such a power to control 
you is setting up anarchy above order : it is the beginning 
of republicanism. Nip this pernicious weed in the bud before 

the colonies, but its insertion would require large space. The- action of the New- 
Hampshire and Rhode-Island towns has been noticed. (See p. 313.) The movement 
did not become general in the Southern colonies until after the passage of the Boston 
Port Act. Then the journals abound with accounts of local meetings. The counties 
in Maryland chose committees in the last of May and in June ; the counties of Virginia 
in June. It was said in the "Massachusetts Gazette " (Tory) of July 7, 1774 : " The 
newspapers from all quarters, in every British American colony, so far as AVC have yet 
received intelligence, are chiefly filled with accounts of meetings and resolutions of 
towns and counties; all to the same purpose, complaining of oppression, proposing 
a congress, a cessation of intercourse with Great Britain, and a contribution for the 
relief of the Boston poor." The "Boston Gazette" of July 4 contains in full the 
proceeding of a meeting of '' The Freeholders and other inhabitants of Frederick 
County," Va., held on the 8th of June, appointing a committee of correspondence; 
and of a meeting of "The Freeholders and Freemen of the City and County of 
Philadelphia" held on the 18th of June, appointing a committee, with John Dickenr 
son at its head. 

1 This address occupies nearly the first side of the "Boston Gazette" of Aug. 8, 


it has taken too deep root." This record of the Tories is 
the shading of the picture of these times, which serves to 
bring out in bright colors the action of the patriots. 

The expressions in favor of a congress became frequent in 
various quarters after the passage of the Tea Act. On the 
passage of the Port Act the demand for a congress was gen- 
eral. The timid regarded this measure as most likely to 
procure a redress of grievances and restore harmony : the 
bold urged it as the first step in the direction of forming an 
independent American commonwealth. It was assented to 
by politicians of whom Joseph Galloway, of Philadelphia, 
was the type who were halting by the way, and ultimately 
took the royal side ; by Whigs, represented by John Dicken- 
son, who never seemed ready to give up the hope of reconcilia- 
tion ; and it was desired above all other measures by the class 
represented by Christopher Gadsden, Richard Henry Lee, 
and Samuel Adams, to give to union the power of organiza- 
tion and law. About a month after the reception of the 
Port Act, the press stated that a congress " was the general 
desire of the continent, in order to agree on effectual measures 
for defeating the despotic designs of those who were endeavor- 
ing to effect the ruin of the colonies." l 

During the month of May propositions for a congress were 
adopted by several public meetings ; and when the condition 
of intercommunication is considered they may be regarded 
as independent of each other. They shew the ripeness of 
public opinion for this measure. The committee in New York 
requested the patriots of Massachusetts to designate the time 
and place ; and they decided to do this through the general 

Meantime General Gage arrived from England fresh from 
a personal interview with the king. He was the commander 
of the British army in America ; and, as the successor of 
Hutchinson, he bore a commission as the Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts. A report was current to the effect that, when 

1 Boston Evening Post, June 20, 1774. 


he landed in Boston, he would be treated with indignity ; 
but he was received (May 17) with every mark of respect 
by the civil authorities and the military, and a vast concourse 
of the inhabitants. When his commission was read in the 
council chamber, salutes were fired and the people cheered. 
In the afternoon an elegant dinner was served in Faneuil 
Hall, which was attended by the principal characters of the 
town. 1 A few days after he went to Salem, escorted by a 
party in carriages. They were met, about noon, by the civil 
authorities and the military, and formed a grand procession. 
There he received the compliments of a great number on his 
accession to his new office, and his safe arrival at the place 
of his residence. It was hoped that this gracious reception 
would remove any unfavorable impression which report 
might have created as to the character and disposition of the 
inhabitants. 2 

The assembly met on the 25th of May, as usual, in 
Boston. The members took the oaths of abjuration, sub- 
scribed the Declaration, chose Thomas Gushing speaker, 
Samuel Adams clerk, and elected twenty-eight councillors. 
On the next day Governor Gage negatived thirteen of the 
twenty-eight, among whom were James Bowdoin,.John Win- 
throp, and John Adams. He summoned the members to the 
council chamber, informed them that he had the king's 
particular commands for holding the General Court at Salem 
after the 1st of June, until His Majesty should signify his 
royal will and pleasure for holding it again in Boston. The 
House asked the Governor to appoint a day of fasting and 
prayer, to petition the Almighty that the people of this 
province might stand favorably in the eyes of the king, and 
be directed in wise and proper measures to establish their 
just rights, liberties, and privileges, and that harmony might 

1 Boston Gazette, May 30, 1774. This issue contains the noble resolves of the 
town of Providence, of May 17, recommending the call of a congress and the abolition 
of negro slavery. They will compare favorably in manner and matter with any 
adopted up to this time in the colonies. 

2 Essex Gazette, June 7, 1774. 


be restored between Great Britain and the colonies. The 
Governor (May 28) adjourned the court, to meet on the 
seventh day of June. 

Hence the assembly was in session on the seventeenth day 
of June in the old and quiet town of Salem. It contained 
members who voted for the resolve of 1764, inviting all the 
assemblies to concert of action ; for the call of the congress of 
1765 ; for the Circular Letter of 1768; and who were of the 
" glorious Ninety-Two" who refused to obey the king's order 
to rescind this Letter. The doors of the chamber in which 
they met were locked, as was usual when important business 
was to be transacted. Samuel Adams submitted resolves 
designating the first day of September as the time, and 
Philadelphia as the place, for holding the congress; providing 
for the appointment of five delegates, and for a tax on the 
towns of five hundred pounds to defray their expenses. While 
these resolves were under consideration, the secretary of the* 
colony, Thomas Flucker, bearing a message from the Governor, 
applied for admission. On being denied, he stood on the 
stairway leading to the hall, and read to the crowd a procla- 
mation dissolving the assembly. 1 The House, however, went 
on with its business. The resolves were adopted, and the 
speaker was ordered to transmit them to the speakers of the 
assemblies of the continent. 2 

1 It is stated in Rushworth's Collections, i. 558, that jnst before Sir Edward Coke 
was about to utter, in committee of the whole, the speech in which he said, "Let us 
put up a Petition of Right," the key was brought up, and none were to go out with- 
out leave first asked. 

2 The following is a selection of the matter relating to a congress, after the passage 
of the Tea Act : 

The " Boston Gazette " of Aug. 2, 1773, in a spirited appeal urging a congress, 
says: " Many and great are the advantages that may result from such a congress or 
meeting of American States, and it should be forwarded as fast as possible." 

Samuel Adams, in the "Boston Gazette," Sept. 13, over the signature of "A.," 
suggests that the next petition should be by "the joint wisdom of the whole in a 
congress, or some other way conformable to the plan of union proposed by Virginia ; ' ' 
saying. " It would certainly be inconsistent with that plan of union for this or any 
other colom r to come into a new system of American policy without consulting the 
whole" A writer in the same paper recommends "that a congress of American 
States be assembled as soon as possible, draw up a Bill of Rights, and publish it to 


Meantime there was an adjournment of what was called 
" The Port Act Meeting " held on the same day in Faneuil 
Hall. Great numbers attended. John Adams was the 
moderator. The principal object of the meeting was to hear 

the world ; choose an ambassador to reside at the British court, to act for the United 
Colonies; appoint where the congress shall annually meet; and how it may be sum- 
moned upon an extraordinary occasion." 

Hutchinson wrote to John Pownal, Oct. 18, 1773, " The leaders of the party give 
out openly that they must have another convention of all the colonies." 

The "Boston Gazette" of Dec. 2, 1773, has a piece which says: "There is no 
time to be lost. A congress, or a meeting of the States, is indispensable." 

John Hancock in the annual oration on the 5th of March, 1774, urged that the 
posture of affairs demanded a general congress. 

A piece dated New York, April 26, 1774, and copied into the " Boston Evening 
Post" of June 6, says: "A congress of deputies from the several colonies is thought 
to be absolutely necessary, to devise means of restoring harmony between Great 
Britain and her colonies, and prevent matters from coming to extremities." 

In a town meeting in Providence, R.I., called by warrant, on the 17th of May, 
1774, it was voted " that the deputies of this town be requested to use their influence, 
at the approaching session of the general assembly of this colony, for promoting a 
congress, as soon as may be, of the representatives of the general assemblies of the 
several colonies and provinces of North America, for establishing the firmest union, 
and adopting such measures as to them shall appear the most effectual to answer that 
important purpose, and to agree upon proper measures for executing the same." 
This vote was immediately printed in the newspapers, and is copied into the "Massa- 
chusetts Gazette," of May 30, 1774. It is the first recommendation of a congress in 
print by an organized body I have met. The committee of correspondence, in a letter 
(May 17) addressed to the Boston committee of correspondence, say: "We trust 
your town will be for a general congress of the American States being convened as 
soon as may be, that an opposition to the unrighteous impositions may be entered 
into by all the colonies, without which we all agree the cause must fail." 

The committee of Philadelphia, representing a respectable number of the inhabi- 
tants, in a calm letter dated May 21, 1774, addressed to the committee of corre- 
spondence of Boston, expressed the opinion that "the first step that ought to be 
taken" is to call a general congress, and promised to obtain the sense of the people 
on this question. It is stated in the New-York papers that copies of this letter were 
sent to New York and to the Southern colonies. It Avas copied in full into the 
"Edinburgh Advertiser" of July 22. 

The committee of correspondence of the city of New York, in a letter dated May 
23, addressed to the committee of correspondence of Boston, say that "a congress 
of deputies from the colonies in general is of the utmost moment, that it ought to be 
assembled without delay:" we "request your speedy opinion of the proposed 
congress, that, if it should meet with your approbation, we may exert our utmost 
endeavors to carry it into execution." Under the date of "New York, May 30," 
copied into the " Essex Gazette" of June 2, the fact is stated that the grand com- 
mittee had proposed a congress. 

Eighty-nine members of the House of Burgesses of Virginia met on the 27th of 
May, at the long room called the Apollo, in the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, 
after the House had been dissolved by Earl Dunmore, and signed an association ; and 


the report of a committee appointed at a previous meeting to 
provide employment for the poor. They, through Warren, 
stated that they thought best to defer reporting till they 
had heard from the other governments. There was much 
written and said at this period about payment for the tea 
that had been destroyed. The advice on this point to the 
patriots from eminent Whigs was contradictory. " I can- 

they were joined by a number of clergymen and others. In this way they "recom- 
mended to the committee of correspondence that they communicate with the sev- 
eral corresponding committees, on the expediency of appointing deputies from the 
several colonies of British America, to meet in a general congress, at such a place 
annually as shall be thought most convenient; there to deliberate on those general 
measures which the united interests of America may from time to time require." 
The whole proceedings, under the date of " VVilliamsburg," and occupying a 
column and a half, are in the "Boston Gazette" of June 13, 1774. The committee 
of correspondence of the Burgesses (May 28) say in their circular letter to the other 
committees: "The propriety of appointing deputies from the several colonies of 
British America, to meet annually m general congress, appears to be a measure ex- 
tremely important and extensively useful, as it tends so effectually to obtain the 
united wisdom of the whole in every case of general concern. We are desirous to 
obtain your sentiments on this subject." 

On the 15th of June the Rhode-Island assembly, in the opinion "that a firm and 
inviolate union of the colonies was absolutely necessary, appointed two delegates to 
attend a congress at such time and place as might be agreed upon;" who were in- 
structed " to procure a regular annual convention of representatives of all the colo- 
nies," &c. These resolves were printed in the Boston newspapers of June 20, 1774. 

In this varied action in behalf of a congress no time or place was named. They 
were designated as follows : 

The Connecticut committee of correspondence, in a letter addressed on the 3d of 
June to the Boston committee of correspondence, made suggestions as to time and 
place, and the next day sent a copy of this letter to the New-York committee. 

The New-York committee, on the 7th of June, in a letter to the Boston com- 
mittee of correspondence, requested them "to appoint the time and place for holding 
the congress." 

The resolves were adopted by the Massachusetts assembly on the 17th of June, 
vrhen one hundred and twenty-nine members were present. Only twelve dissented. 
The preamble and first resolve were as follows : " This House, having duly considered 
and being deeply affected with the unhappy differences which have long subsisted and 
are increasing between Great Britain and the American colonies, do resolve: That a 
meeting of committees from the several colonies on this continent is highly expedient 
and necessary to consult upon the present state of the colonies, and the miseries to 
which they are and must be reduced by the operation of certain acts ,of parliament 
respecting America ; and to deliberate and determine upon wise and proper measures 
to be by them recommended to all the colonies for the recovery and establishment of 
just rights and liberties, civil and religious, and the restoration of union and harmony 
between Great Britain and the colonies, most ardently desired by all good men." 
The time fixed was the first day of September, and the place Philadelphia, or any 
other place that should be judged most suitable by the committee. 


not," Franklin wrote from London, " but wish and hope 
that compensation would be made to the company ; " but 
Gadsden, of Charleston, wrote, " Don't pay for an ounce of 
the damned tea." The subject was discussed in the meet- 
ing. The committee of correspondence laid before the 
town, probably through Warren, the answers they had 
received from the circulars the town had sent. They were 
directed to write to all the other^ colonies and acquaint them 
that the town was awaiting with anxiety the result of a con- 
tinental congress in whose wisdom they confided, and in 
whose determination they should cheerfully acquiesce. The 
meeting, according to the journals, was never exceeded in 
firmness and unanimity : not one had any thing to say in 
favor of paying for the tea ; and all were willing to endure 
the worst rather than surrender the rights of America. 

This was a memorable day. In the evening the choice 
spirits of the popular party, who had figured in the meeting in 
Faneuil Hall and in the assembly at Salem, met at Warren's 
residence. Adams, Gushing, Quincy, Warren, Young, were 
of the number ; and they formed, Young the next day wrote, 
" an important and agreeable company." The spirit evinced 
in the meeting in Faneuil Hall, the action at Salem relative 
to the congress, the intelligence in the journals, a spirited 
letter from Baltimore, cheered their hearts : a letter was 
read from New York, which was pronounced " as encouraging 
as any thing they had from any part of the continent." 
They could not know that a Massachusetts assembly should 
never again act under the authority of the crown, or that the 
province that day sent forth to serve them in the congress 
a patriot who was soon to be the chief magistrate of an 
independent nation. They had manfully performed duties 
expected from them. " Our rejoicing," one of the band 
wrote, "was full, from an interchange of interesting advices 
from all quarters." 

The patriot just referred to, John Adams, was in his 
thirty-ninth year. He was born in Braintree, graduated at 


Harvard, taught a school in "Worcester, studied law, and, 
on the recommendation of Jeremiah Gridley, eminent in the 
profession, was sworn as an attorney. He had a strong 
desire for the approbation of the wise and good, and had* 
formed the resolution never to commit any meanness or in- 
justice in the practice of the law. He had an early ambition 
to rise in his profession. By industry he became a learned 
lawyer, and by nature he was an honest one. He served 
his native town as a selectman; after he removed to Boston, 
was a representative a single year in the legislature ; and 
won much reputation by acting as counsel for the British 
soldiers who were concerned in the " Boston massacre." 
His heart was with the cause of the patriots, and his erudi- 
tion was ever at their service. His labor with his pen was 
valuable. He uttered so many ringing words that he has 
been called the Martin Luther of the Revolution. He did 
not attend the public meetings ; did not always approve of 
the movements of the patriots ; and mingled so little in 
practical politics that, down to this day, he was rather the 
counsellor than an actor, and was only a private man honored 
by a few marks of the confidence of his fellow-citizens. 1 If 
he had in large measure conceit, envy, and vanity, he had 
also honesty and integrity, and a noble and pure heart, the 
aspirations of which were ever for the advancement of his 
country and the welfare of his race. He was impulsive, 
frank, and generous. He lacked the confidence in the people 
that some of his co-laborers possessed, which led him to 
embrace strong conservative views of government, and to 
lean to aristocratic features. He accepted the position of a 
delegate to the congress, where his greatness of character 
and large ability gave him a commanding position as a 
leader ; and he soon became identified with the important 
measures of the Revolution. 

The resolves calling a congress were printed in the news- 
papers and immediately transmitted to the other colonies, 

1 Life of John Adams, by his grandson, Hon Charles Francis Adams, p. 149. 


which acquiesced in the time and place designated. The 
whole action was most satisfactory to the patriots, who again 
sounded praises to a Massachusetts assembly. One now 
wrote : " I am extremely pleased with the spirit and glorious 
conduct of your General Court. They are a band of patriots, 
fit to be intrusted with the rights and liberties of a people, 
and whose resolution and good sense would do them honor 
in any country under heaven." 1 

The popular party were now pledging themselves to abide 
by the decisions the congress might come to in relation to 
a general plan for a redress of grievances. The method 
generally suggested was the old one of commercial non- 
intercourse. There was a stern determination to have it 
efficient. One of the Virginia Burgesses wrote, in sending 
out a moderate agreement, " We have no other weapons to 
fight with." The Boston committee said, " It is the last and 
only method of preserving the land from slavery without 
drenching it in blood ; " and they sent out a vigorous " Solemn 
League and Covenant," the signers to which agreed, " in the 
presence of God," not to buy goods from Great Britain or 
consume any, to break off dealings with all who bought 
them, and publish their names to the world. This covenant 
made a great noise. It drew from the Tories a protest sub- 
mitted in a town meeting in Fancuil Hall, and from Governor 
Gage a proclamation terming it an illegal and traitorous com- 
bination to distress the British nation, and enjoining the 
officers of the law to apprehend and hold for trial all who might 
sign or circulate it. 2 This insane step gave an impetus to the 

1 A New-York letter, dated June 26, 1774, in the "Boston Gazette" of July 4. 

2 The solemn league and covenant was decided upon (June 2) by the Boston 
committee of correspondence. Joseph Warren reported it. The committee sent it 
to the towns. The " Massachusetts Gazette " (Tory) printed it on the 23d of June. 
It elicited voluminous comment. The next issue of this paper (June 30) contains the 
Proclamation by the Governor " to discourage illegal combinations " and against the 
league and covenant. This issue also has an account of the proceedings of a town 
meeting held in Faneuil Hall, June 27, in which this covenant was read. Also a 
protest against it, dated June 29, signed b}' one hundred and twenty-eight citizens, at 
the head of whom was Harrison Gray. 


movement. " We have not a man but will sign," the Pep- 
perrell committee wrote by the hand of a French war hero, 
William Prescott. 1 In Hardwick, Brigadier Ruggles, a mag- 
istrate, gave out word that he " would commit to jail any 
man who presumed to sign the covenant ; " when " upwards 
of a hundred persons put their names to it." 2 The Virginia 
patriots also were entering into a combination to distress the 
British nation. Their convention arraigned this proclama- 
tion in scathing terms, and nobly resolved to stand by 
Massachusetts in case an attempt was made by Gage to 
carry it out ; a resolve that in England was looked upon as 
an overt act of treason. 3 

These movements were premature. However impolitic 
the method of non-intercourse turned out to have been, there 
was great unanimity in urging it ; but not in relation to the 
form, or as to the articles which an agreement should include. 
It was unwise to enter upon a measure affecting largely 
material interests, and depending for its success on a gen- 
eral concurrence, before there could be a consultation of all 
the colonies. It was, besides, inconsistent with a sentiment 
long inculcated, that any plan affecting the common cause 
ought to be agreed upon by a common council. In this the 
popular party were so harmonious, it was now said (July 4), 
that the accounts from every post brought the resolutions of 
the cities, towns, and counties, containing " assurances of 
their sending deputations to assist at a grand congress 
of representatives of all the colonies, to whose wisdom, 
firmness, and fortitude, the liberty, property, and whole 
interest of this free and august continent are to be dele- 
gated." 4 

The resolutions here referred to embody in a striking 

1 Letter to the Boston committee, July 4, 1774. 

2 Boston Gazette, July 4, 1774. 

3 The following is in the "Edinburgh Advertiser" of Oct. 4: "The declaration 
of the Virginians, that it was lawful to repel force by force in case any measures were 
taken to carry the Proclamation of General Gage into execution, is looked upon here 
as an overt act of treason, and implies a rebellious intent." 

* Boston Evening Post, July 4, 1774. 



manner the determination of the time ; and constitute a 
class of facts which seem to have been overlooked, but are 
worthy of attention. Thus the freeholders of Baltimore 
County, in Maryland, pronounced in favor of forming an 
association in relation to imports and exports to be agreed 
upon in a general congress, and of cutting off all dealings 
with the parties who would not come into the plan. Other 
counties in that province voted similar propositions ; and a 
convention composed of delegates from all of them was held 
in Annapolis, in which Matthew Tighlman presided ; which 
adopted the recommendation and the pledge. Both were 
reiterated in other colonies in the votes of towns, counties, 
and provincial conventions. The foremost revolutionary 
names are connected with these proceedings. Christopher 
Gadsden took part in a great meeting at Charleston, S.C., 
which " most solemnly agreed to abide by the decisions of 
the congress ; " and in the debates at a meeting in the city 
of New York, which voted " to abide by and observe" these 
decisions, Alexander Hamilton, then an unknown youth, 
shone like a star. In Pennsylvania a " provincial meeting 
of deputies " from the counties went so far as to pledge 
themselves to break off all dealings with any individual in any 
town or colony that did not adopt the plan agreed upon ; and 
among the delegates were John Dickenson, James Wilson, 
Thomas Mifflin, Joseph Reed, and Anthony Wayne. No 
colony was more decided on the recommendation and the 
pledge than Virginia. In Fairfax County, where Washington 
was the chairman of the meeting, the suggestion was not only 
that Virginia, but that the associating colonies, ought to break 
off dealings with the places which should refuse to carry out 
the plan adopted by congress. In Albemarle County, Jeffer- 
son penning the resolves, the pledge was accompanied by the 
suggestion that dealings should be cut off " from every part 
of the British Empire that should not break off their com- 
merce with Great Britain." A convention of delegates from 
all the counties was held, in August, at Williamsburg ; and 


this body reiterated the pledge to abide by the decisions of 
the congress, and declared that those who refused ought to 
be regarded as inimical to the country. Thus it was well- 
nigh the universal voice of the people that the recommenda- 
tions of the congress should have the force of laws. 

This embodiment of the public will by the qualified electors 
in the municipalities, and through the instrumentality of 
representatives in the conventions, bore the impress of regu- 
larity. The pledge related only to matters in which all had 
a common interest. It was confined to dealing with the 
mother-country in procuring a redress of grievances. In 
relation to this, the great point reached was a solemn pledge 
to submit to the decision of the majority, " the vital 
principle of republics." The recommendations of the colo- 
nies in congress assembled were to be observed as a para- 
mount rule of action. This may be regarded as the germ of 
the important provision of law incorporated thirteen years 
later into " The more perfect Union ; " namely, " that this 
Constitution, and the laws of the United States made in pur- 
suance thereof, and all treaties, shall be the supreme law of 
the land, any thing in the laws of any State to the contrary 
notwithstanding." The remarkable action did not pass 
unobserved. The Tories denied the lawfulness of making 
pledges in advance to abide by the decisions of the congress: 
the Whigs hailed them as an earnest that they meant to 
stand or fall together. 1 

1 The simple resolve to abide by the decision of the congress was so common that 
it may be said to have been universal. 

The colony of Maryland was among the first to vote to cut off all trade with those 
who would not acquiesce in the decision of the congress. The vote of Baltimore County, 
May 31, 1774, was in the following terms: "Resolved, unanimously, that the inhab- 
itants of this county will, and it is the opinion of this meeting that this province ought 
to, break off all trade and dealings with that colony, province, or town, which shall 
decline or refuse to come into similar resolutions with a majority of the colonies." 
Anne Arundell County adopted a similar resolution June 4; Caroline County, June 
18; Frederick County, June 20. Charles County, June 14, voted "to cut off 
dealing with the province, county, or town, that should refuse to associate in some 
rational means," &c. Other counties made similar pledges. A convention of the 
committees of the several counties was held at Annapolis, June 22, 1774. It voted, 


The Tea Act and its sequence, the Boston Port Act, 
were fulfilling their mission. They were the proximate cause 
of events, one naturally and inevitably evolving another, 
which had the effect of changing the condition of the Ameri- 
can cause from discord to harmony, from confusion to order, 

unanimously, "that this province will break off all trade and dealings with that 
colony, province, or town, which shall decline or refuse to come into the general plan 
which may be adopted by the colonies." The proceedings of this convention were 
printed in full in the "Boston Evening Post," of July 25, 1774. The same issue has 
the proceedings of the inhabitants of South Carolina, at a meeting held in Charleston, 
on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of July, in which they "most solemnly engaged to abide by 
the decisions of congress." 

The "Massachusetts Gazette" of Aug. 8, 1774, contains the proceedings of a 
meeting of the deputies chosen by the several counties in Pennsylvania, held in 
Philadelphia, July 15, 1774; occupying the whole of the first side of the paper, and 
a column on the next. Some of the resolutions were recorded as having passed by 
a majority; but the following was unanimously adopted: "That the people of this 
province will break off all trade, commerce, and dealing, and will have no trade, 
commerce, and dealing of any kind, with any colony on this continent, or with any 
city or town in such colony, or with any individual in any such colony, city, or 
town, which shall refuse, decline, or neglect to adopt and carry into execution such 
general plan as shall be agreed to in congress." 

In New Jersey a meeting of the committees of the several counties was held on 
the 21st of July, at New Brunswick, and passed resolves in favor of a general con- 
gress, the commissioners to which should be empowered " mutually to pledge, each to 
the rest, the public honor and faith of their constituent colonies, firmly and inviolably 
to adhere to the determinations of the said congress." 

In Virginia the pledge was as thorough as that of the Solemn League and 
Covenant of Boston. The whole of one side of the "Boston Gazette" of Aug. 8, 
1774, is occupied with the proceedings, "At a general meeting of the Freeholders 
and Inhabitants of the County of Fairfax, on Monday, the eighteenth day of July, 
1774, at the court house, in the town of Alexandria, GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esq., 
chairman, and ROBERT HARRISON, gentleman, clerk of said meeting." The 21st 
resolve is: "That, in the opinion of this meeting, this and the other associating 
colonies should break off all trade, intercourse, and dealings with that colony, 
province, and town, which shall decline or refuse to agree to the plan which shall be 
adopted by the General Congress." The Albemarle resolution, July 26, penned by 
Jefferson, is as follows: "To discontinue all commercial intercourse with every part 
of the British Empire which shall not in like manner break off their commerce with 
Great Britain." The Virginia convention of delegates from the counties of this 
colony at Williamsburg, Aug. 1, 1774, agreed upon a non-importation association, 
and voted not to deal with any merchant or trader who would not sign it, and to 
consider such persons as inimical to the country. 

The following paragraph ("Edinburgh Advertiser," Aug. 9, 1774) shows that 
this class of facts did not pass unobserved abroad : "The following provinces, towns, 
counties, &c., in America, viz., Connecticut, towns of Preston, Farmington, Weth- 
ersfield, and Hartford; Williamsburg, in Virginia; Baltimore, in Maryland; Annap- 
olis ; Rhode Island and Providence, have unanimously resolved to break off all trade 
and dealings with Great Britain, &c., and with that colony, province, or town, 


from the road to ruin to the broadway to national triumph. 
The Whig affirmed the Tory conceded that there was 
union. It rested on a public opinion so broad and deep 
a determination so stern that it had become a positive 
force. It was an invulnerable shield cast over American 
development; and, in relation to matters common to all and 
properly pertaining to its sphere, ready to dominate over 
merely provincial ideas and objects. As the learned in 
academic halls reflected on the grand unfolding, they said : 
" The last and recent stroke of the parliament at our liber- 
ties has astonished America into a real and efficacious union, 
which it is beyond the power of Europe to dissolve." 1 A 
noble actor on the stage, throbbing with genuine patriotism, 
now wrote : " The Americans have one common interest. 
Natural allies, they have published to the world professions 
of esteem and confidence, aid and assistance : they have 
pledged their faith of mutual friendship and alliance. Not 
only common danger, bondage, and disgrace, but national 
truth and honor, conspire to make the colonists resolve to 
stand or fall together." 2 This salient sentence sums up 
American history down to this time. Under the fresh im- 
pulse of the next parliamentary stroke, the sentiment of 
American union became embodied in an association having 
the force of law. In truth such a union of mind and heart 
was the country. It was pronounced indissoluble. On the 
flag floating over popular gatherings was the motto " Union 
and Liberty." They were facts and forces working together, 
and were correlative. The feeling thus early was union 

which shall decline or refuse to come into similar resolutions with the majority of the 

These votes were commented on with great severity in "The Congress Can- 
vassed," a pamphlet printed in New York, 1775. The writer says of the Whigs: 
"You had no right to make a promise implicitly to obey all their (congress) regula- 
tions, before you knew what they were, and whether they would interfere with the 
public laws of the government or not." p. 40. 

1 Ezra Stiles, in Holmes' s Life, July 30, 1774, p. 180. 

2 Josiah Quincy, Jr.^ Observations on the Boston Port Bill. This pamphlet was 
advertised in the Boston newspapers of June 16, 1774. 


and liberty, now and for ever : it seemed as though that gen- 
eration realized that there could be no union without liberty, 
and no genuine liberty without the power there was in union 
to protect it. Indeed, it was decreed in the regular channels 
by which the will of the people is collected and declared, 
in a solemn pledge " of national truth and honor," - tha,t 
those who were not true to American union were false to 
American liberty. 

The history presented in the stages of the development of 
American union is not that of one leader, or of a few leaders, 
who planned a great political movement and created the 
spirit by which it was to be executed ; or who carried 
forward a people by the power of their intellect or the 
magnetism of their renown : it is rather the history of com- 
munities, who, however marked by diversity in their forms 
of local life, had really the foundation for a certain unity 
in being imbued with similar ideas, who were moved by 
similar impulses, and who alike aimed to guard the right to 
hold and improve the free institutions which they had devel- 
oped. A claim more just was never proffered at the foot- 
stool of power. A history more interesting and valuable 
cannot be presented to American youth. It shows, in these 
communities, a population of two and a half millions in 
action ; moving steadily forward all inarching together 
one way towards an end which they earnestly and hon- 
estly disavowed and deprecated, but which, in the plan of 
Providence, was the goal marked out for them to reach. 

The result thus far was real American union. During the 
ten years of the past struggle the popular leaders had incul- 
cated the sentiment that union was salvation. The fact of 
its achievement inspired the ranks of the party with enthu- 
siasm. It purified and magnified their work. " When I 
review," one writes, " the annals of the world, I am con- 
strained to believe that great things await America. When 
Liberty was well-nigh banished from every quarter of the 
globe, she found an asylum in this savage land. Learning, 


liberty, and every thing that ennobles the human mind, have 
constantly been-' travelling westward." These great things 
required a condition of freedom for their development. But 
the assumption of the right to tax, and the whole system of 
domination founded on this assumption, were repugnant to 
" the Saxon genius of liberty and law which English America 
inherited from the parent state." Ezra Stiles, who penned 
these words, prophesied : " If oppression proceeds, despotism 
may force an annual congress ; and a public spirit of enter- 
prise may originate an American Magna Charta and Bill of 
Rights, supported by such intrepid and persevering impor- 
tunity as even sovereignty may hereafter judge it not wise 
to withstand. There will be a Runnymede in America." l 

1 July, 1774, Holmes's Life of Stiles, p. 180. 



AUGUST, 1774, TO 1775. 

WHILE the popular party were choosing delegates to the con- 
gress and agreeing to abide by its decisions, the American 
cause received a fresh impulse through the passage in par- 
liament of two Acts altering the government of Massachu- 
setts. As the people were refusing obedience to these 
Acts, the congress met, formed " The Association of the 
United Colonies," and pledged support to the inhabitants 
of Massachusetts, in case it was attempted to carry the 
Acts into execution by force ; and this pledge was reit- 
erated in letters from towns and counties tendering life and 
fortune in defence of the cause. 

The king was unwearied in efforts to give direction to the 
measures relating to America. On the day the Port Bill was 
moved in parliament (March 14), he sent to Lord North 
a note, in which he urged an alteration of the charter of 
Massachusetts, and remarked that Lord Dartmouth was very 
firm as to its expediency. 1 On the 28th of March, late at 
night, he expressed " infinite satisfaction " to the premier, 
because he had moved that " leave be given to bring in a 
bill for the better regulating the government of the province 
of Massachusetts Bay." In his explanatory speech on this 
occasion, Lord North described that government as being in 
" so forlorn a situation" that no governor could act. He 

1 Donne, Correspondence of George III., i. 174. 


dwelt upon the defects in the civil magistracy, the doings 
of the town meetings, the mode of selecting jurymen, and the 
general need of strengthening the executive authority. He 
commended the bill which he proposed to bring in as calcu- 
lated " to purge that Constitution of all its crudities, and 
give a degree of strength and spirit to the civil magistracy 
and to the executive power." 

In the debate which followed, Lord George Germain not 
only approved of the objects specified by Lord North, but 
proposed to regulate other parts of the internal government, 
and particularly to alter the basis on which the council and 
the municipalities rested. He said : " There is a degree of 
absurdity, at present, in the election of the council. I can- 
not, sir, disagree with the noble lord ; nor can I think he 
will do a better thing than to put an end to their town meet- 
ings. I would not have men of a mercantile cast every day 
collecting themselves together, and debating about political 
matters : I would have them follow their occupations as 
merchants, and not consider themselves as ministers of 
that country. I would also wish that all corporate powers 
might be given to certain people of every town, in the same 
manner that corporations are formed here : I should then 
expect to see some subordination, some authority and order. 
. . . The juries require great regulation: they are totally 
different from ours. ... I would wish to bring the Consti- 
tution of America as similar to our own as possible. I 
would wish to see the council in that country similar to a 
House of Lords in this. ... You have, sir, no government, 
no governor : the whole are the proceedings of a tumult- 
uous and riotous rabble, who ought, if they had the least 
prudence, to follow their mercantile employment, and not 
trouble themselves with politics and government, which they 
do not understand." On the conclusion of this speech, Lord 
North rose and said : "I thank the noble lord for every 
proposition he has held out: they are worthy of a great 


mind, and such as ought to be adopted." l The noble lords 
contrived to embody in their speeches " the ignorance and 
contempt of America pervading England, from the cedar to 
the hyssop on the wall." 2 

There was much deliberation in the cabinet relative to the 
council, Lord Mansfield urging that the nomination of the 
members ought to be vested in the crown. The king wrote 
(April 14) to Lord North : "I find it so much the wish of 
the cabinet, that I cannot too strongly express my preferring 
your introducing the bill to-morrow that is drawn up for 
vesting the nomination of the councillors in the crown." 
Accordingly the bill moved the next day by the obedient 
premier contained this important addition. He stated, that, 
upon the hints thrown out by Lord George Germain, he 
had altered also the mode of choosing juries. At nine 
o'clock that evening the king was " infinitely pleased " at 
the introduction not only of this bill, but also of the "bill 
for the impartial administration of justice," designed to aid 
the enforcement of the former law. 3 The second reading 
(April 22) gave him "infinite satisfaction;" and he was 
again (May 3) " infinitely pleased " that the bill passed, 
and that the majority was so considerable. 4 It received the 

1 This debate was printed in the Boston newspapers of May 19 and 23, 1774. It 
is in "Parliamentary History," vol. xvii. pp. 1192-1195. It will be observed that 
Lord George Germain proposed to substitute for the municipalities in America, a 
system like the self-perpetuating councils (see above, p. 15) of England; and Lord 
North approved of all his propositions. 

2 Donne uses these words in a note (Correspondence of George III., i. 187). 

3 The king feared that the motion for leave to bring in the bill would be post- 
poned, and hence his unusual satisfaction. Ibid., i. 178. 

4 Letters of George III., of the dates in the text in Donne's Correspondence, i. 
181, 182, 183. On the 6th of May, the king, in a note to Lord North, dated Kew, 
fifty-one minutes past nine, P.M., writes: "The Bill for the better administration 
of justice in Massachusetts Bav, having been read a third time, and passed the House 
of Commons this day, after a short debate, with a great majority, gives me infinite 
satisfaction. Perseverance, and the meeting difficulties, as they arise, with firmness, 
seem the only means of either with credit or success terminating public affairs. 
Your conduct on the American disturbances is a very clear proof of the justness of 
that proposition." The conduct of the Americans at this period supplied another 
very clear proof of the effect of this firmness and perseverance. 


royal assent on the 20th of May. The Act " for the impar- 
tial administration of justice" passed by similar majorities, 
and was signed at the same time. Both were to take effect 
from their passage. 

The Regulating Act made elections of the council under 
the charter void, provided that the board should consist of 
not less than twelve members nor more than thirty-six, and 
vested their appointment in the crown. The Governor was 
clothed with power to appoint and remove judges of the in- 
ferior courts, justices of the peace, and other minor officers. 
The Governor and council were to appoint and remove sher- 
iffs, who were authorized to select jurymen. Town meetings, 
except for the choice of officers, were forbidden, without per- 
mission of the Governor. The Act relating to the admin- 
istration of justice provided for the transportation of offenders 
and witnesses to other colonies or to England for trial. 
A Protest in the House of Lords objected that the parties had 
no notice of this proceeding, and had not been heard in their 
defence ; and that this Act invested " the Governor and coun- 
cil with powers with which the British Constitution had not 
trusted His Majesty and his privy council"; that "the lives, 
liberties, and properties of the subject were put into their 
hands without control." 1 

These severe acts of naked injustice were inspired by that 
jealousy of the republican element which had tormented the 
Board of Trade ever since its formation, and which the Earl 
of Clarendon judged in his day had begun to ripen. 2 They 
were designed as the beginning of the abridgment of English 
liberties, and of the remodelling of the Constitutions, which 
had long been desired by the school that distrusted the capac- 
ity of the people for self-government. They involved the 
fundamentals of personal liberty, trial by jury, discussion of 
political measures, and free assemblies. They struck at the 

1 Parliamentary History, xvii. 1323. The Protest was circulated widely in the 
American journals. 

2 See above, p. 15; also Lord Hillsborough's declaration in parliament, p. 250. 


general right of the colonies to mould their internal polity. 
In these Acts parliament assumed the power to alter the 
American Constitutions at its will and pleasure. If it could 
deal in this way with Massachusetts, it could deal in a sim- 
ilar way with all the colonies. In fact, the laws were a 
complete embodiment of the principle of the obnoxious 
Declaratory Act. 1 v 

These measures, on which hung great issues, were first 
made known to America through the drafts of the bills as 
moved in the House of Commons. They reached Boston 
on the second day of June, and were printed in the news- 
papers on the third. The action of the Boston committee 
was, as usual, prompt and decisive ; and the commit- 
tees throughout the province did not fall behind the Bos- 
ton committee in boldness and zeal. " We were chosen," 
wrote Samuel Adams to Charles Thomson, of Philadelphia, 
" to be, as it were, outguards to watch the designs of our 
enemies ; and have a correspondence with almost every town 
in the colony. By this means we have been able to circulate 
the most early intelligence of importance to our friends in the 
country, and to establish a union which is formidable to our 
adversaries." 2 The legislative committee immediately trans- 
mitted these bills to the other legislative committees, with a 
circular in which they say: "These edicts, cruel and oppres- 
sive as they are, we consider but as bare specimens of what 
the continent are to expect from a parliament who claim a 
right to make laws binding us in all cases whatsoever." The 

1 Earl Russell (Life of C. J. Fox, i. 63) says of the Act altering the government 
of Massachusetts: "A measure more subversive of freedom, more contrary to all 
constitutional principles, and more likely to excite America against imperial authority, 
could not well be framed." 

Lord Mahon, in his History (vol. vi. p. 548) remarks: " How rash the precedent, 
at such a time, of dealing so lightly with a royal charter ! How far wiser had it been 
to bear any amount of inconvenience from the defects of the existing fabric, rather 
than attempt its reconstruction at the very moment when the storm was raging 
around it ! ... If one charter might be cancelled, so might all : if the rights of any 
one colony might hang suspended on the votes of an exasperated majority in Eng- 
land, could any other deem itself secure? " 

2 Letter to Charles Thomson, May 30, 1774. 


policy now marked out by the patriots of Boston is seen in the 
utterances of Samuel Adams, which continue to be calm and 
prophetic. " Boston suffers with dignity: if Britain, by her 
multiplied oppressions, accelerates the independency of her 
colonies, whom will she have to blame but herself ? It is a 
consolatory thought that an empire is rising in America." 1 
" Our people think they should pursue the line of the Consti- 
tution as far as they can ; and if they are driven from it, 
they can then with propriety and justice appeal to God and 
the world. ... I would wish to have the humanity of the 
English nation engaged in our cause, and that the friends 
of the Constitution might see and be convinced that nothing 
is more foreign to our hearts than a spirit of rebellion. 
"Would to God they all, even our enemies, knew the warm 
attachment we have for Great Britain, notwithstanding we 
have been contending these ten years with them for our 
rights." 2 These are not the words of one who was mixing 
a bitter cup, but rather of one who had schooled himself to 
take submissively the cup which the Providence of events 
might present. 

The popular party was then in the heat and glow of the 
noble enthusiasm inspired by the fact of union. It was 
natural that measures, which struck at the ancient right of 
local self-government should rouse general alarm and indig- 
nation. Those who had been moderate and wavering became 
resolute and resentful. The condemnation of these bills was 
spontaneous and withering. They were doomed to annul- 
ment before intelligence was received of their passage into 
laws ; and when Governor Gage received them officially, the 
public conviction of their enormity had become embodied in 
the sternest action. 

A few illustrations of the temper and determination of the 
popular party must suffice. In Pennsylvania, a convention 
of all the counties characterized the proposed Acts as un- 

1 Letter to William Checkley, June 1, 1774. 

2 Letter to Charles Thomson, June 2, 1774. 


constitutional, oppressive, and dangerous to the American 
colonies. 1 A convention " of the whole province of Mary- 
land" declared that the bills, if passed into Acts, would lay 
a foundation for the utter destruction of British America. 2 
In South Carolina, a great meeting of freeholders from all 
parts of the province resolved, that, if these bills were 
allowed to go into effect, there would not be the shadow 
of liberty to person, or security to property, to His Majesty's 
subjects residing on the American continent. 3 In Yirginia, 
the freeholders of Fairfax County, George Washington in 
the chair resolved, that, unless these cruel measures were 
counteracted, the end would be the ruin of the colonies; 
and that, should the town of Boston be forced to submit, 
the citizens of Fairfax should not hold the same to be bind- 
ing upon them, but, notwithstanding, would religiously main- 
tain and inviolably adhere to such measures as should be 
concerted by the general congress for the preservation 
of their lives, liberties, and fortunes. 4 This action was 
crowned by the declaration of the convention of all the 
counties, in August, that, under the original Constitution of 
the American colonies, their assemblies had the sole right 
of directing their internal polity ; that the proclamation of 
General Gage was a plain declaration that this despotic 
viceroy would be bound by no law, and that an attempt to 
execute it would justify resistance and reprisal. 5 

The newspapers were laden with political appeals and the 

1 The proceedings of the Pennsylvania convention of deputies from the several 
counties, July 15, were printed in the "Boston Evening Post" of August 8. 

2 The proceedings in full of the meeting of committees, in session from June 22 to 
25, are in the " Essex Gazette " of July 19. 

3 The resolves of this meeting of the 6th, 7th, and 8th of July are in the "Massa- 
chusetts Gazette " of July 26. They say that the proposed Acts, though levelled at 
Boston, "very manifestlv and glaringly show, if the inhabitants of that town are 
intimidated into a mean submission to these Acts, that the like are designed for all 
the colonies. . . . It is the duty of the inhabitants of all the colonies to support the 
inhabitants of Boston," &c. 

4 The proceedings of this meeting are in the "Boston Gazette" of August 8. 

5 The instruction of the convention to the delegates is in the "Boston Evening 
Post" of August 29. 


proceedings of public bodies, enjoining unanimity and resolu- 
tion. They showed that the popular party were arrayed in 
solid phalanx against the Regulating Acts. " You," an ad- 
dress to Gage reads, " consider the opposition fomented by 
three or four factious men in Boston. You ought to know 
better, after reading the resolves of every province, city, town, 
and county on the continent. There are no such reservoirs 
of public virtue in America as there are of corruption iu 
England. We are all alike charged with the fire of patriot- 
ism." 1 " Our country people," a letter says, " appear to be 
very firm : they look to the last extremity with spirit." 2 It 
was said in South Carolina : " One soul animates three mil- 
lions of brave Americans, though extended over a long tract 
of three thousand miles." 3 " If they [the ministers] ever 
subdue the spirit of New England, may God forbid! that 
instant the evil genius of Tyranny will begin to stalk over 
these premises with gigantic strides." 4 

The injunction to the patriots of Massachusetts to act with 
efficiency came to them still more directly through letters 
addressed to the Boston committee from every quarter. A 
few sentences from these letters will serve to shew their spirit. 
" We view the attack made by the minister upon the colony 
of the Massachusetts Bay to be intended to pave the way to 
a general subversion of the constitutional rights of North 
America. It becomes, therefore, the duty of every American, 
who is not an apostate to his country, to pursue every jus- 
tifiable method to avert this impending calamity." 6 "A 
more finished picture of despotism cannot be drawn by the 

1 The "Pennsylvania Journal" of August 17. This extract is from a sharp 
address to General Gage, copied into the " Essex Gazette " September 6. 

2 Boston Evening Post, August 8. 

3 Boston Gazette, August 15. 

4 This extract is from a spirited and generous piece copied into the "Boston 
Evening Post," August 1, with this introduction: " The following piece, taken from 
the 'South-Carolina Gazette,' is republished here both on account of the excellent 
sentiments it expresses, which are applicable to all the British colonies, and to shew 
that our brethren in South Carolina concur with the other colonies in resenting and 
opposing the tyrannical Acts of the British parliament." 

5 Letter from Cape Fear, North Carolina, July 29. 


skill of man than is portrayed in the famous Declaratory 
Bill, nor could it be carried into more perfect execution than 
by the Boston Port Bill, and by two other Acts destroying the 
ancient rights of your colony. America perfectly knows 
that you are only designed for the first victim in the heca- 
tomb of sacrifice to be offered to the god of Oppression, and 
will not therefore willingly suffer you to bleed at the shrine 
of his brazen altar, until we all bleed and die together." 1 
" We mean, in the first place, to attempt to appease the fire 
(raised by your committing the India tea to the watery ele- 
ment as a merited oblation to Neptune) of an ambitious and 
vindictive minister by the blood of rams and of lambs: " [a 
flock of sheep came with the letter] " if that do not answer 
the end, we are ready to march in the van, and to sprinkle 
the American altars with our hearts' blood, if occasion 
should be. ... The public virtue now exhibited by Ameri- 
cans exceeds all of its kind that can be produced in ther 
annals of the Greeks and Romans. Behold them from 
north to south, from east to west, both publishing their 
sentiments and supporting their poor. . . . You are held 
up as a spectacle to the whole world. All Christendom are 
longing to see the event of the American contest. And do, 
most noble citizens, play your part manfully, of which we 
make no doubt. Your names are either to be held in eter- 
nal veneration or execration. If you stand out, your names 
cannot be too much applauded by all Europe and all future 
generations." 2 " At this period of your suffering, and on the 
reception of the second and third unrighteous Acts of par- 
liament, usurping authority and oppressing your town and 
province, we are anxiously looking that some important 
event will take place. It becomes us to be watchful ; and 

1 Lebanon correspondence, August 8. William Williams was one of the signers 
of this letter. 

2 Parish of Brooklyn, in Pomfret, Connecticut, August 11. Col. Israel Putnam, 
one of the signers, came on with a donation of sheep : was the guest of Joseph Warren ; 
talked with old friends in the British army, whom he met subsequently in battle at 
Bunker Hill. 


there is reason to fear that nothing short of another kind of 
resistance will regain and secure our privileges." 1 

Thus the will of the people, collected generally through the 
forms in which they were accustomed to proceed in political 
affairs, and expressed with as much regularity as circum- 
stances would permit, was declared with respect to the two 
new Acts. It was, that they should share the fate of the 
Stamp Act and the Tea Act, even though the shedding of 
blood might be the consequence. And this verdict is found 
of record before the general congress met, or before the Acts 
were attempted to be put in force. In the natural course 
of events, a crisis was reached, involving ideas in deadly 
conflict with each other : for the public opinion of twelve 
colonies may be said to have enjoined the inhabitants of 
Massachusetts, for the sake of civil liberty, to refuse obe- 
dience to the two Acts, as imperatively as the king's in- 
structions, in behalf of feudal England, enjoined General 
Gage to carry them into execution. 

While these interesting events were occurring, the cabi- 
net were taking the necessary steps to execute the two Acts. 
Ex-Governor Hutchinson now arrived in London, and was. 
summoned (July 1) immediately to the royal closet. For 
nearly two hours he was interrogated by the king in rela- 
tion to the affairs of Massachusetts. One of the first ques- 
tions naturally was : " How did you leave your government, 
and how did the people receive the news of the late meas- 
ures in parliament?" Hutchinson replied: "When I left 
Boston (June 1), we had no news of any Act of parlia- 
ment, except the one for shutting up the port, which 
was extremely alarming to the people." The king asked: 
" Pray, Mr. Hutchinson, what is your opinion of the effect 
from the new regulation of the council ? Will it be agree- 
able to the people, and will the new appointed councillors 
take the trust upon them ? " Hutchinson replied : " I have 
not been able to inform myself who they are. I came 

1 Preston, August 20. 


to town late last evening, and have seen nobody. I 
think much will depend upon the choice that has been 
made." The king rejoined : " Inquiry was made, and pains 
taken that the most suitable persons should be appointed." 
Hutchinson remarked : " The body of the people are dis- 
senters from the Church of England, what are called 
Congregationalists. If the council shall generally be selected 
from the Episcopalians, it will make the change more dis- 
agreeable." This is all the conversation that was minuted 
by Hutchinson relative to these important Acts. 1 The im- 
pressions which the king received from the interview were set 
down two minutes past nine, that evening, in a note which he 
addressed to Lord North. " I am now well convinced," he 
wrote, " they will soon submit : he (Hutchinson) owns the 
Boston Port Bill was the only wise and effectual method that 
could have been suggested for bringing them to a speedy sub- 
mission, and that the change in the legislature will be a means 
of establishing some government in that province, which, till 
now, has been one of anarchy." 2 Hutchinson deceived 
himself and the king, if he placed any reliance on the char- 
acter or religion of the persons selected for councillors ; and 
never was a ruler more wofully in error than was George 
III. as to the temper of the Americans. 

The instructions of the cabinet relative to the execution 
of these Acts were prepared under the influence of this fatal 
error. They bear date June 3d, and were transmitted through 
Lord Dartmouth to General Gage. They were quite elaborate, 
and instructed him that whatever violences were committed 
must be resisted with firmness, that the constitutional author- 
ity of this kingdom over its colonies must be vindicated, and 
that not only its dignity and reputation, but its power, nay, 
its very existence, depended on that moment. "For," said 
Lord Dartmouth, "should those ideas of independence, which 

1 Extracts from the Journal of Thomas Hutchinson, dated July 1, 1774. I am 
indebted to Mr. Bancroft for this interesting MS. 

2 George III. to Lord North, July 1, 1774, two minutes past nine, P.M. Donne, 
i. 194. 


some dangerous and ill-designed persons here are artfully 
endeavoring to instil into the minds of the king's American 
subjects, once take root, that relation between this kingdom 
and its colonies which is the bond of peace and power will 
soon cease to exist; and destruction must follow disunion." 
Here power commanded, in terms as imperative as the lan- 
guage afforded, the execution of the illegal Acts as com- 
pletely as though they were constitutional and just. 

Governor Gage did not officially receive the two Acts and 
the instructions in relation to them until the 6th of August, 
when he also received appointments for thirty-six council- 
lors. 1 Twenty-four of the number accepted. An informal 
meeting was held on the 8th of August, and all were noti- 
fied to assemble on the 16th for the transaction of busi- 
ness. 2 The sheriffs summoned persons to serve as jurors. 
The judges prepared to hold courts, and the Governor to 
support their authority by military force. He had at his 
command troops from famous European battle-fields. One 
regiment was stationed at Salem, where he resided ; one 
at Castle William, in Boston Harbor. In Boston, one regi- 
ment was at Fort Hill, and four regiments were on the Com- 
mon. Nearly thirty ships of war were in the harbor. 

The Governor now sent for the selectmen of Boston, and 
told them he should endeavor to put the Regulating Act 
into execution, especially the clause in relation to holding 
town meetings; and if any ill consequences followed, they 
only would be blamable. Town meetings, however, were 
held all over the province, and chose delegates to county 
conventions. The committees of correspondence were es- 
pecially active, and held continual conferences. The words 
of a noble and brave man, who fell at Bunker Hill, will 
serve as a type of Massachusetts in this hour of trial: "I 
consider the call of my country as the call of God, and 

1 The names of the thirty-six councillors appointed by His Majesty were printed 
in the "Massachusetts Gazette" August 11. 

2 The names of thirteen councillors, who met and took the oath of office on the 
16th, were published in the newspapers of the 18th. 


desire to be all obedience to such a call. The committees 
of correspondence for the several towns in the county of 
Worcester have assembled, are in high spirits, and perfectly 
united. The committees of Cambridge and Charlestown are 
to have a conference to-morrow. I trust the whole county 
of Middlesex will soon be assembled by delegates. I have the 
greatest reason to believe will choose to fall gloriously in the 
cause of their country rather than meanly to submit to 
slavery." 1 A meeting of these committees from several 
counties, held in Faneuil Hall, matured measures for secur- 
ing a thorough resistance to the two Acts, and for convening 
a Provincial Congress. The community was now thoroughly 
roused. It was said in the public prints : " The spirit of 
the people was never known to be so great since the settle- 
ment, and they were determined to die or to be free." 

A great uprising began on the 16th of August at Great 
Barrington. When the judges attempted to hold a court, 
the farmers thronged to the place, filled the building, and 
blocked up the avenue leading to it. The sheriff commanded 
them to make way for the court, but the answer was : "No 
court will be submitted to but on the ancient laws and 
usages." In Boston, the chief justice and associate justices 
and barristers, arrayed in their robes, went unmolested in 
procession from the town house in King, now State Street, 
to the court house in Queen Street, and took their accus- 
tomed places ; but the jurors, both grand and petit, stood up 
and refused to be sworn. In Salem, the Governor issued a 
proclamation warning all persons against attending a town 
meeting, which was nullified within the sound of his drums. 
The mandamus councillors who accepted felt the storm of 
public indignation. As one, an honored citizen of Plymouth, 
and a Congregationalist, took his seat in the church on Sun- 
day, a large number of persons rose and walked out of the 
house ; when another in Bridgewater, a deacon, also a Con- 
gregationalist, read the psalm, the congregation refused to 

1 Thomas Gardiner to the Boston committee of correspondence, August 12. 


sing ; and several councillors living in the country were 
compelled by gatherings of the people to resign. The 
county officers were similarly dealt with, and were univer- 
sally compelled to decline their appointments. The patriots 
said that " their souls were touched by a sense of the wrongs 
already offered them, as well as those which were threatened," 
and that " they would never rest, while one man who had 
accepted any office under the new Acts was possessed of any 
post of power or profit." l They averred that herein they 
acted in accordance with the Christian duty of each individ- 
ual. They used no more force than was required to effect 
the object they had in view, complete disobedience to the 
new Acts ; and, expressing an abhorrence of mobs, they de- 
clared " that, in a contest so solemn and a cause so great, 
their conduct should be such as to merit the approbation of 
the wise, and the admiration of the brave and free, of every 
age and country." " On experiment," Dr. Ramsay remarks, 
" it was found that to force on the inhabitants a form of 
government to which they were totally averse was not 
within the fancied omnipotence of parliament." 2 

The resistance to the two Acts was thorough. It is no 
injustice to other patriots to say that in this perilous duty 
Joseph Warren rose to the height of a rare opportunity to 
serve his country. The occasion brought forth his power. 
He is found in the committee room, in the town meeting, in 
the county congress, in great popular demonstrations, and 
in personal consultations with the Governor. His soul was 
in arms. His unstudied words were a mirror, reflecting the 
passion and resolve of indignant freemen as they stood man- 
fully for their rights, and burn and glow with the fire of the 
time. " Where liberty " he wrote to a Connecticut town, 
in the thick of action, without a thought of himself " where 

1 Essex Gazette, August 30. The " Gazette " of this date contains full details of 
the uprising ; among them, the dealing with the councillors in Plymouth, Bridge- 
water, and Taunton. It contains also many resignations of officers appointed under 
the new Acts. 

2 History of the American Revolution, i. 132. 


liberty is the prize, who would shun the warfare, who would 
stoop to waste a coward thought on life ? We esteem no sacri- 
fice too great, no conflict too severe, to redeem our inestimable 
rights and privileges. 'Tis for you, brethren, for ourselves, for 
our united posterity, we hazard all ; and permit us humbly to 
hope that such a measure of vigilance, fortitude, and perse- 
verance will still be afforded us, that, by patiently suffering 
and nobly daring, we may eventually secure that more 
precious than Hesperian fruit, the golden apples of freedom. 
We eye the hand of Heaven in the rapid and wonderful 
union of the colonies ; and that generous and universal 
emulation to prevent the sufferings of the people of this 
place gives a prelibation of the cup of deliverance. May 
unerring Wisdom dictate the measures to be recommended 
by the congress! May a smiling God conduct this people 
through the thorny paths of difficulty, and finally gladden 
our hearts with success ! " 1 

The congress now engrossed the public mind. It convened 
when the disobedience of the people of Massachusetts to the 
Regulating Act was representing the determined and stern 
feeling of the thirteen colonies, and when the conviction was 
growing that arms would have to decide the contest. " Let 
us remember," a Virginian wrote, "that with the sword our 
fathers obtained their constitutional rights, and by the sword 
it is our duty to defend them." 2 In the conviction that 
this duty must be performed, Washington, ready to. stake his 
fortune and his life in the cause, said in the Virginia con- 
vention: "I will raise one thousand men, subsist them at 
my own expense, and march myself at their head for the re- 
lief of Boston." 3 About the time these words were spoken, 

1 Letter to Stonington, August 24. On the 29th, Warren says to Samuel Adams : 
"I am constantly busied in helping forward the political machines in all parts of the 
province." Life and Times of Warren, p. 352. 

2 To the Gentlemen of the General Convention of Virginia, "Williamsburg, July 
28, 1774. 

3 This was in August, 1774. Works of John Adams, ii. 360. Mr. Lynch, of 
South Carolina, said to John Adams that this was the most eloquent speech that 
ever was made. 


Joseph Hawley, of Massachusetts, embodied his views of the 
questions in issue, and his belief that the colonies " must 
fight," in a paper remarkable for its insight and comprehen- 
siveness. 1 Samuel Adams had long been of this opinion ; 
and John Adams, after his appointment as a delegate, said : 
" We shall have to resist by force." 2 He read Hawley 's 
paper to Patrick Henry, who responded: "I am of that 
man's mind." Adam Stephen, a Virginia soldier, urged in 
strong terms the necessity of military preparation, in a letter 
addressed to a member elect of the congress, and expressed 
the general feeling in relation to this body, as he wrote : " I 
expect to see the spirit of the Amphictyons shine as that 
illustrious council did in their purest times, before debauched 
with the Persian gold. The fate of America depends upon 
your meeting ; and the eyes of the European world hang 
upon you, waiting the event." 3 

On the fifth day of September most of the delegates 
elected to the congress were in Philadelphia. They were 
invited by the speaker of the Pennsylvania assembly to hold 

1 This paper, entitled "Broken Hints," was read to Patrick Henry in the autumn 
of 1774, and was first printed in Niles's "Acts of the Revolution," 1822, p. 324. It 
was prepared before the middle of August; for, when it was written, there might 
have been a question whether the Regulating Act should be "immediately withstood 
and resisted," but at that date the question was settled: the Act was annulled. 

The paper begins: " We must fight, if we can't otherwise rid ourselves of British 
taxation, all revenues, or the constitution or form of goverment enacted for us by 
the British parliament. It is evil against right, utterly intolerable to every man 
who has any idea or feeling of right or liberty." 

This noble utterance has the following on union : 

"Our salvation depends upon an established, persevering union of the colonies. 

"The tools of administration are using every device and effort to destroy that 
union, and they will certainly continue to do so. 

" Thereupon, all possible devices and endeavors must be used to establish, improve, 
brighten, and maintain such union. 

" Every grievance of any one colony must be held and considered by the whole as a 
grievance to the whole. This will be a difficult matter, but it must be done." 

2 As John Adams and Samuel Adams were conversing in John Adams's office in 
Boston, immediately after their appointment as delegates, John Adams said, in the 
presence of .John Trumbull: "I suppose we must go to Philadelphia together, and 
enter into non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreements ; but 
they will be of no avail: we shall have to resist by force." Pitkin, i. 277. 

3 Letter to R. H. Lee, Aug. 27, 1774. 


their sessions in the State House, but decided to meet in the 
hall owned by the carpenters, a fine brick building, having 
commodious rooms for the use of the committees, and an 
excellent library in the chambers. It is still in good preser- 
vation. At ten o'clock in the morning the delegates met at 
the City Tavern, walked to Carpenters' Hall, 1 and began the 
sessions of the Continental Congress. 

This assembly, when all the members had taken their seats, 
consisted of fifty-five delegates, chosen by twelve colonies. 
They represented a population of two millions two hundred 
thousand, paying a revenue of eighty thousand pounds ster- 
ling. 2 Georgia, which did not elect delegates, gave a promise 
to concur with her " sister colonies" in the effort to maintain 
their right to the British Constitution, which, according to 
the American interpretation, was " a Constitution founded on 
reason and justice, and the indelible rights of mankind " : 3 
words that went to the depths of the American cause. In 
general, the delegates elect were men of uncommon ability, 
who had taken a prominent part in the political action of 
their several localities, had won public confidence, and were 
fair exponents of the aims, feelings, and political ideas of the 
country. Some had corresponded ; one was in the Albany 
convention of 1754 ; eight were members of the congress 
of 1765 ; but nearly all met for the first time. 4 

Each of the three divisions by which the colonies were 
usually designated the New England, the Middle, and the 
Southern colonies had on the floor of the congress men 

1 The hall has chairs in which the delegates sat, interesting Revolutionary 
memorials, and the following inscription: "Within these walls Henry, Hancock, 
and Adams inspired the delegates of the colonies with nerve and sinew for the toils of 
war resulting in National Independence." 

2 This was the calculation made by R. H. Lee, and probably did not include 
slaves. John Adams's Works, ii. 362. 

3 Resolutions of a general meeting of the inhabitants of Georgia, Aug. 10, 1774. 

4 Stephen Hopkins was in the Albany convention. Thomas McKean and Caesar 
Rodney of Delaware, Philip Livingston of New York, John Dickinson of Pennsyl- 
vania, Thomas Lynch, John Rutledge, and Christopher Gadsden, of South Carolina, 
and Eliphalet Dyer of Connecticut, were in the Stamp Act Congress. 


of a positive character. New England presented, in John 
Sullivan, vigor; in Roger Sherman, sterling sense and in- 
tegrity ; in Thomas Gushing, commercial knowledge ; in 
John Adams, large capacity for public affairs ; in Samuel 
Adams, a great character, with influence and power to or- 
ganize. The Middle colonies presented, in Philip Livingston, 
the merchant prince of enterprise and liberality ; in John 
Jay, rare public virtue, juridical learning, and classic taste ; 
in William Livingston, progressive ideas tempered by con- 
servatism ; in John Dickinson, "The Immortal Farmer," 
erudition and literary ability ; in Ca3sar Rodney and Thomas 
McKean, working power; in James Duane, timid Whigism, 
halting, but keeping true to the cause ; in Joseph Galloway, 
downright Toryism, seeking control, and at length going to 
the enemy. The Southern colonies presented, in Thomas 
Johnson, the grasp of a statesman ; in Samuel Chase, activity 
and boldness ; in the Rutledges, wealth and accomplishment ; 
in Christopher Gadsden, the genuine American ; and in the 
Virginia delegation, an illustrious group, in Richard Bland, 
wisdom ; in Edmund Pendleton, practical talent ; in Peyton 
Randolph, experience in legislation ; in Richard Henry Lee, 
statesmanship in union with high culture ; in Patrick Henry, 
genius and eloquence ; in Washington, justice and patriotism. 
" If," said Patrick Henry, " you speak of solid information 
and sound judgment, Washington unquestionably is the 
greatest man of them all." Those others who might be 
named were chosen on account of their fitness for duties 
which the cause required. Many had independent fortunes. 
They constituted a noble representation of the ability, cul- 
ture, political intelligence, and wisdom of twelve of the 
colonies. 1 

The delegates represented communities, so far as their 

1 " The congress is such an assembly as never before came together, on a sudden, 
in any part of the world. Here are fortunes, abilities, learning, eloquence, acute- 
ness, equal to any I ever met with in my life." John Adams, Sfept. 29, 1774 
(Works, ix. 346). 


domestic relations were concerned, independent of each 
other. Each had its own assembly, which had framed the 
local laws. Indeed, there were no political relations what- 
ever between them, except the important one of being alike 
British subjects, of owing allegiance alike to the British 
crown, and being alike proud of the glories of the British 
flag. But the measures counted on to produce division in 
their councils tended to union. The evidences were increas- 
ing, that these communities, in which diversity had so long 
ruled paramount, were sternly resolved to embody their 
sentiment of union in a common bond that should operate 
with the force of law. Thus " colonies differing in religious 
opinions and in commercial interests, in everything depend- 
ent on climate and labor, in usages and manners, swayed by 
reciprocal prejudices, and frequently quarrelling with each 
other respecting boundaries, found themselves united in 
one representative body, and deriving from that union a 
power that was to be felt throughout the civilized world." l 
The object aimed at, as stated in the credentials of the dele- 
gations, 2 and especially in those of the two powerful colonies 

1 Bancroft's History, vii. 127. 

2 The delegates were chosen and commissioned as follows. 

From Rhode Island. Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Ward. Chosen by the assembly, 
June 15. Credentials signed by J. Wanton, the Governor. Authorized "to consult 
upon proper measures to obtain a repeal of the several Acts, . . . and upon proper 
measures to establish the rights and liberties of the colonies upon a just and solid 
foundation, agreeable to the instructions given you by the general assembly." 

Massachusetts. Thomas Gushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat 
Paine. Chosen by the assembly, June 17. Credentials signed by Samuel Adams, 
clerk. Authorized " to consult upon the present state of the colonies, . . . and to 
deliberate and determine upon wise and proper measures, to be by them recommended 
to all the colonies, for the recovery and establishment of their just rights and liberties, 
and the restoration of union and harmony between Great Britain and her colonies, 
most ardently desired by all good men." 

Maryland. Matthew Tilghman, Thomas Johnson, Robert Goldsborough, Wil- 
liam Paca, Samuel Chase. Chosen, June 22, by committees of the counties assembled 
in convention. Their credentials were the resolve of the convention. It authorized 
them "to effect one general plan of conduct, operating on the commercial connection 
of the colonies with the mother country, for the relief of Boston, and preservation of 
American liberty." 

Connecticut. Eljphalet Dyer, Roger Sherman, Silas Deane. Chosen by the 
committee of correspondence, July 13, who were authorized to act by the assembly. 


of Massachusetts and Virginia, was to obtain a redress of 
grievances, and to restore harmony between Great Britain 
and America,which, it was said, was desired by all good men. 

Credentials signed by the committee of correspondence. Authorized to " consult and 
advise with the commissioners or committees of the several English colonies in 
America, on proper measures for advancing the best good of the colonies." 

New Hampshire. John Sullivan, Nathaniel Folsom. Chosen, July 21, in a 
convention of deputies from the towns. Their credentials were the vote of the con- 
vention. Authorized "to devise, consult, and adopt such measures as may have the 
most likely tendency to extricate the colonies from their present difficulties ; to secure 
and perpetuate their rights, liberties, and privileges; and to restore that peace, har- 
mony, and mutual confidence which once subsisted between the parent country and 
her colonies." 

Pennsylvania. Joseph Galloway, Samuel Rhoades, Thomas Mifflin, Charles 
Humphries, John Morton, George Ross, Edward Riddle. Chosen, July 22, by the 
assembly. Their credentials were the vote of the assembly. The delegates were 
authorized "to consult together on the unhappy state of the colonies, and to form 
and adopt a plan for the purposes of obtaining a redress of grievances, ascertaining 
American rights upon the most solid and constitutional principles, and for establishing 
that union and harmony between Great Britain and her colonies which is indispen- 
sably necessary for the welfare and happiness of both." 

New Jersey. James Kinsey, William Livingston, John Dehart, Stephen Crane, 
Richard Smith. Chosen, July 23, by committees of the counties met in convention. 
Credentials signed by fourteen of the members. Authorized " to represent the colony 
of New Jersey." 

Delaware. Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, George Reed. Chosen, August 1, 
by a convention of the representatives of the freemen of the government (f the three 
counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. Credentials signed by Caesar Rodney, 
chairman. Authorized " to determine upon all such prudent and lawful measures 
as may be judged most expedient for the colonies immediately and unitedly to adopt, 
in order to obtain relief for an oppressed people, and the redress of our general 

South Carolina. Henry Middleton, John Rutledge, Thomas Lynch, Christopher 
Gadsden, Edward Rutledge. Appointed first by a general meeting held in Charles- 
ton on the sixth, seventh, and eighth days of July, and ratified by the assembly on 
the second day of August. Credentials signed by Thomas Farr, Jr., clerk of the 
assembly. Authorized " to agree to and effectually prosecute such legal measures 
as in the opinion of said deputies, and the opinion of the deputies so to be assembled, 
shall be most likely to obtain a repeal of" certain Acts, and a redress of grievances. 
Virginia. Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Patrick 
Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton. Chosen, August 5, 
by meeting of delegates of the counties. Credentials were the vote of the convention. 
It authorized them "to represent the colony in a general congress," in a body con- 
vened "to procure a redress for Massachusetts, secure British America from the rav- 
age and ruin of arbitrary taxes, and speedily to procure the return of that harmony 
and union so beneficial to the whole empire, and so ardently desired by all British 

North Carolina. William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, Richard Caswell. Chosen, 
August 25, at a provincial convention. Credentials signed by John Harvey, mod- 


It was the conviction that this might be done through a Bill 
of Rights, in which the limits of the powers of the colonies 
and the mother country might be defined. 

The congress was organized by the choice of Peyton Ran- 
dolph of Virginia for President, and Charles Thomson of 
Philadelphia, not a member, for Secretary. The President 
was widely known. The Secretary had identified himself 
with the cause in Philadelphia, and was destined to serve it 
long and faithfully. The credentials of the members were 
next read and approved. A discussion then arose on the rules 
to be observed in determining questions, in which Patrick 
Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and John Adams participated, 
and which was renewed the next day, when it was agreed that 
each colony should have one vote. 1 Congress then decided 
to appoint a committee to state the rights of the colonies, the 
instances in which those rights had been violated, and the 
most proper means to obtain their restoration ; and another 
committee to examine and report upon the statutes affecting 
the trade and manufactures of the colonies. On this day 
Samuel Adams, in answer to the objection to opening the 
sessions with prayer, grounded on the diversity of religious 
sentiment among the members, said that he could hear a 
prayer from a man of piety and virtue, who was a friend to 
the country, and moved that Mr. Duche, an Episcopalian, 
might be desired to read prayers to the congress on the 
following morning. 2 The motion prevailed, and congress 
soon after adjourned. 

erator, and Andrew Knox, clerk. ' ' Invested with such powers as may make any 
acts done by them, or consent given in behalf of this province, obligatory in honor 
upon every inhabitant hereof, who is not an alien to his country's good, and an apos- 
tate to the liberties of America." 

New York. James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, Isaac Low, William 
Floyd, Henry Wisner, John Alsop, John Herring, Simon Boerum. They were 
chosen by counties, and their credentials were "certificates of their election" by the 
people. The last delegate, Boerum, took his seat October 1. 

1 " Resolved, That, in determining questions in this congress, each colony or prov- 
ince shall have one vote ; the congress not being possessed of, or at present able to 
procure, proper materials for ascertaining the importance of each colony." Jour- 
nals, i. 11. 

2 Letters of John Adams, i. 23. 


That evening the report came that the British ships were 
bombarding Boston. The public mind was deeply agitated. 
" War ! war ! war ! was the cry," John Adams wrote. 
The members met the next morning in this agitated state. 
The Keverend Jacob Duch appeared with his clerk and in 
his pontificals ; read several prayers ; then the Psalm for the 
seventh day of the month, the thirty-fifth, which began: 
" Plead Thou my cause, Lord, with them that strive with 
me, and fight Thou against them that fight against me. Lay 
hand upon the shield and buckler, and stand up to help 
me : " and then, John Adams said, he " unexpectedly to any- 
body struck out into an extemporary prayer for America, 
for the congress, for Massachusetts, and especially for Boston, 
which was so fervent that it filled the bosom of every man 
present." On this day the members of the two committees 
already named were appointed, when the congress adjourned 
for several days. 

The congress sat with closed doors. Nothing transpired 
of their proceedings, except the organization and the rule 
of voting. The members bound themselves to keep their 
doings secret until a majority should direct their publication. 
Their decisions were awaited in the deepest anxiety. 

The members during two days were " made miserable " 
by the alarming reports from Boston. 1 These reports grew 
out of the measures of General Gage in disarming the prov- 
ince. A party of soldiers, at night, removed a quantity of 
powder from Charlestown to Castle William, and in the 
morning thousands of the people gathered in Cambridge. 
The alarm spread, and reached Colonel Putnam in Connec- 
ticut, who stated in a letter addressed to Captain Cleavland 
that the British men-of-war and the troops were firing on 
Boston, and called on him to rally all the forces he could, 

1 Silas Deane wrote September 6 : " An express arrived from New York confirm- 
ing the account of the rupture at Boston. All is in confusion. I cannot say that all 
faces gather paleness, but they all gather indignation, and even' tongue pronounces 
revenge. The bells toll muffled, and the people run, as in the case of an extremity, 
they know not where nor why." Connecticut Historical Collection, ii. 174. 


and march immediately to Massachusetts. The prompt 
response to this call by the militia showed a general and 
earnest determination to defend the cause. Soon after this 
alarm (September 14) an admirable series of resolves, passed 
by the people of the county of Middlesex in Massachusetts, 
were laid before congress. They elicited praise, but did not 
occasion action. Three days later (September 17) congress 
received the resolves of the county of Suffolk, which included 
Boston. They declared that the people owed an indis- 
pensable duty to God and their country to preserve those 
liberties for which the fathers fought and bled, expressed 
the determined opposition of the inhabitants to the Acts 
altering the charter, and promised cheerful submission to 
such measures as the continental congress might recommend. 
They were aglow with the soul of Joseph Warren, who drew 
them up ; and they elicited a flow of generous sentiment and 
manly eloquence. Expressions of esteem, admiration, and 
affection for the people of Boston and of Massachusetts fell 
from the members. Congress, in resolves passed unani- 
mously, expressing feeling for the sufferings " of their coun- 
trymen in the Massachusetts Bay," most thoroughly approved 
the fortitude and wisdom with which the opposition to minis- 
terial measures had been conducted, and earnestly recom- 
mended a perseverance in the same firm and temperate 
conduct that was expressed in the resolutions of the county 
of Suffolk. They voted that contributions from all the colo- 
nies for alleviating the distress of their brethren of Boston 
ought to be continued " so long as their occasions might 
require." These resolves, together with the Suffolk resolves, 
were ordered to be printed. 1 

Nothing material of the doings of congress was published 
for three weeks. During this period the two committees 

1 The "Boston Evening Post" of Sept. 26, 1774, says: "By Mr. Paul Revere, 
who returned express from Philadelphia last Friday evening, we have the following 
important intelligence." The resolves were sent to Joseph Warren by the President 
of Congress Peyton Randolph and Thomas Gushing, the letters of which were 


already named were maturing a system of measures. The 
deliberations showed that the Tories had a champion in 
Joseph Galloway. His early speeches do not indicate 
divergence from the Whigs. He held that he stood on the 
ground of English liberties, that the colonies ought of right 
to mould their " internal police," and that they ought to be 
represented in the body that levied taxes on them ; and these 
were Whig fundamentals. Nor was he more ardent than 
the Whigs in professing allegiance to the crown, nor more 
earnest in desiring reconciliation and the preservation of the 
union between the colonies and Great Britain. But Galloway 
made the preservation of this union the paramount object, 
while the Whigs made the preservation of their rights and 
liberties paramount. Here was the gulf between them. 
Galloway distrusted republicanism, and in any event was 
opposed to independence: the popular leaders, imbued with 
the republican spirit, meant to preserve their rights, even 
with the sword if needful, though this might involve a 

On the 28th of September Galloway introduced a " plan 
for a proposed union between Great Britain and the colo- 
nies," l prefaced with a resolve averring that the colonies 
"held in abhorrence the idea of being considered indepen- 
dent communities of the British government." This plan 
provided for a president-general to be appointed by the 
crown, and a grand council, consisting of representatives 
chosen every three years by the assemblies, to meet annually 
or oftener, its Acts to be subject to the revision of parlia- 
ment, while it was to have the right in turn to veto Acts of 
parliament relative to the colonies ; with the further pro- 
vision that each colony should retain its present constitution 
and power of regulating " its internal police in all cases 
whatsoever." The scheme was intended to perpetuate the 

1 This plan was printed in pamphlet form in 1774, and was reprinted in his tract 
of 1780, entitled " Historical and Political Reflections on the Rise and Progress of 
the American Rebellion." His examination before the House of Commons in 1779 
was printed in that year in London. 


dependence of the colonies on England, and was proposed 
with the approbation of the loyalist Governors, Franklin of 
New Jersey, and Golden of New York. Galloway urged it 
in an elaborate speech, and it was supported by Duane, Jay, 
and Edward Rutledge. It was not only rejected, however, 
but the members came at last to view it with so much odium 
that the motions in relation to it were ordered to be expunged 
from the journals. This result was an end to the loyalist 
influence in congress. After Galloway came out openly on 
the British side, he wrote much about this plan, his own 
course, and the aims of the patriots. His shuffling and 
equivocation, his misrepresentations and ascription of mean 
motives to his political opponents, reveal a total want of 
that integrity of character which shines conspicuous in the 
men he defamed, and shows that he was unworthy of the 
popular confidence which he had enjoyed. 

Soon after the defeat of this insidious plan, Paul Revere 
of Boston, who had been despatched as an express, arrived 
(October 6) in Philadelphia, in the midst of the discussion 
on the reports of the committees. He bore a letter from the 
Boston committee of correspondence relative to the course of 
General Gage, who was proceeding on the assumption that 
the time for reasoning had passed, and that force only could 
decide the controversy between the colonies and Great 
Britain. The letter contained details of the fortification of 
Boston ; stated that it was fast becoming a garrison, and that 
its inhabitants might be held as hostages to compel submis- 
sion to the law ; and promised in their name, that, if congress 
should advise them to leave the town, they would obey. The 
letter also stated that the Governor, after summoning the 
legislature, dissolved it by proclamation before it could con- 
vene; and it asked the advice of congress for the future 
guidance of the people. In response, that body adopted a 
letter to be sent to Gage, reported by Lynch, Samuel Adams, 
and Pendleton. In this letter, congress, as " the represen- 
tatives of His Majesty's faithful subjects in all the colonies 


from Nova Scotia to Georgia," stated to the Governor that 
the approbation of the conduct of the people of Massachusetts 
was universal ; that it was " the determined resolution of the 
colonies, for the preservation of' their common rights, to 
unite in opposition" to the late Acts of parliament; and 
that the congress had been appointed the guardians of their 
rights and liberties. Pointing to the peaceable demeanor of 
the inhabitants, they requested him to discontinue the forti- 
fications in and about Boston, and avoid the horrors of civil 
war. The terms and tone of this communication were as 
though the colonies formed one political power. 

Congress now adopted five resolves in relation to Massa- 
chusetts. The first was agreed upon on the 8th of October, 
and was as follows : " That this congress approve of the 
opposition made by the inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay to 
the execution of the late Acts of parliament ; and if the same 
shall be attempted to be carried into execution by force, in 
such case all America ought to support them in their oppo- 
sition." The report of the debate on this important resolve 
is meagre. It was strongly opposed, and especially by Gal- 
loway and Duane ; and when overruled, they asked permis- 
sion to enter a protest against it on the journals, which was 
refused. On leaving congress, they exchanged memoran- 
dums, to the effect that they had objected to it on the ground 
of its treasonableness. 

On the next day, Sunday, Washington wrote a letter in 
which he dwelt on the affairs of Massachusetts, expressing 
indignation at the violation of its rights, and sympathy for 
the peril of its inhabitants. He had spent much time with 
the delegates from this colony, and he remarked that it was 
not the wish of that government, or of any other on the con- 
tinent, to set up for independence, yet that none would ever 
submit to the loss of rights and privileges essential to the 
happiness of every free state. " I am well satisfied," he 
wrote, " that no such thing [as independence] is desired by 
any thinking man in all North America ; on the contrary, 



that it is the ardent wish of the warmest advocates for liberty 
that peace and tranquillity, on constitutional grounds, may 
be restored, and the horrors of civil discord prevented." 1 
This comprehensive and decisive statement is in harmony 
with the whole scope of private and public utterances of the 
popular leaders, those on whom rested the responsibility 
of the political action. 

Four additional resolves were passed by congress on the 
Monday and Tuesday (10th and llth) following. They 
declared that all persons in Massachusetts who consented to 
take office under the new Acts ought to be considered wicked 
tools of the despotism that was preparing to destroy the 
rights which God, nature, and compact had given to America, 
and ought to be held in abhorrence by all good men. They 
advised the inhabitants of this colony to submit to a suspen- 
sion of the administration of justice, when it could not be had 
under laws based on the charter ; and recommended a peace- 
able demeanor towards the troops, and perseverance in the 
line of the defensive. The five resolves were ordered to be 
transmitted by the President to the Boston committee, as 
the advice of congress on the subject-matter of their letter. 2 

While these events were occurring, the two committees 
already named were proceeding with their deliberations. 
The notices of their debates indicate the patience required 
to surmount obstacles before a result could be reached. 

1 Washington, Oct. 9, 1774, to Capt. Robert Mackenzie, of the British army, in 
Boston. This remarkable letter is in Sparks's Writings of Washington, ii. 399. 

2 John Adams, Oct. 7, 1774, wrote as follows to William Tudor: "If it is a 
secret hope of many, as I suspect it is, that the congress will advise to offensive 
measures, they will be mistaken. I have had opportunities enough, both public and 
private, to learn with certainty the decisive sentiments of the delegates and others 
upon this point. They will not, at this session, vote to raise men or money, or arms 
or ammunition. Their opinions are fixed against hostilities and rupture, except they 
should become absolutely necessary ; and this necessity they do not yet see. They 
dread the thoughts of an action, because it would make a wound which would never 
be healed ; it would fix and establish a rancor which would descend to the latest 
generations ; it would render all hopes of a reconciliation with Great Britain des- 
perate ; it would light up the flames of war, perhaps through the whole continent, 
which might rage for twenty years, and end in the subduction of America as likely 
as in her liberation." 


The committee on trade and manufactures was the first to 
submit a report, which was (September 19) referred to the 
committee on the rights of the colonies, when Thomas 
Gushing, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Mifflin were added 
to this committee. In three days it reported. The dis- 
cussion in the congress on this report was long. The busi- 
ness was simplified by a vote (September 24) to limit its 
action, " at present, to the consideration of such rights as 
had been infringed by Acts of parliament since 1763." On 
the 14th of October the members agreed upon a Declaration 
of Rights. 

This paper claimed for Americans the immunities of free 
subjects within the realm of England, so far as circumstances 
would allow. It claimed that they had a coequal right to the 
British Constitution, the constitution of their country, 
and that they had " a free and exclusive power of legislation 
in their provincial legislatures, where their rights of repre- 
sentation could alone be preserved in all cases of taxation 
and internal polity," subject to the negative of the sover- 
eign. It contained ten resolves, in which were enumerated 
the rights that could not be legally taken from them, or 
altered or abridged by any power whatever ; and it speci- 
fied eleven Acts or parts of Acts of parliament which were 
necessary to be repealed, in order to restore harmony between 
the colonies and Great Britain. A compromise resolution, 
framed with great care, disclaimed any purpose of refusing 
obedience to Acts " restrained to the regulation of the ex- 
ternal commerce, for the purpose of securing the commercial 
advantages of the whole empire to the mother country." In 
this paper it was stated that the good people of twelve colonies 
had appointed deputies to sit in a general congress to obtain 
such an establishment as might prevent their religion, laws, 
and liberties from being subverted; and, as their English 
ancestors had done, they made their Declaration of Rights. 
After calmly averring that Americans could not submit to 
the Acts which had been specified as grievous, congress 


conclude by stating that "for the present they had only re- 
solved to pursue the following peaceable measures : " 1. To 
enter into a non-importation, non-consumption, and non- 
exportatioh agreement or association; 2. To prepare an 
address to the people of Great Britain, and a memorial to 
the inhabitants of British America ; 3. To prepare a loyal 
address to His Majesty." 

With the exception of two of the articles, the Declaration 
was adopted unanimously. The phrase in some instances 
is similar to that in the Bill of Rights of William and Mary. 
It presents the colonies as a unit in the vital matters of rep- 
resentation, free discussion, free assemblies, and trial by 
jury, in a word, self-government. It was hoped faintly 
by some, strongly by others that the basis laid down in 
this interesting paper might lead to an act of settlement, 
fixing the terms for a permanent union between America 
and England. 1 

Congress decided (September 27) on commercial non- 
intercourse with Great Britain as the means of restoring 
American rights, and (September 30) appointed a committee 
to bring in a plan for carrying this measure into effect, who 
reported on the 12th of October. . The measure deeply 
affected great material interests; and the difficulties met 
and overcome were a foretaste of what was to be encountered 
in the formation of the more perfect union under the Con- 
stitution. At one stage of the proceedings on the question 
of restricting rice three of the South-Carolina delegation 
left the congress, but soon returned, their point having been 

1 The committee who reported the Declaration consisted of Sullivan and Folsom, 
of New Hampshire; the Adamses and Cushing, of Massachusetts; Hopkins and 
Ward, of Rhode Island; Dyer and Sherman, of Connecticut; Duane and Jay, of 
New York; Livingston and De Hart, of New Jersey; Galloway, Biddle, and Mifflin, 
of Pennsylvania; Rodney and McKean, of Delaware; Johnson and Goldsborough, 
of Maryland; Lee, Pendleton, and Henry, of Virginia; Lynch and J. Rutledge, of 
South Carolina Several members probably contributed to frame it. A copy exists 
in handwriting resembling that of Sullivan, whose name stands at the head. John 
Adams framed the article relative to the regulation of trade. 


The Association was signed on the 20th of October by 
fifty-two members. Their covenant was in these words: 
" We do for ourselves, and the inhabitants of the several 
colonies whom we represent, firmly agree and associate under 
the sacred ties of virtue, honor, and love of our country." 
The instrument consisted of fourteen articles, forming rules 
for the government of the people in relation to the non- 
importation, non-exportation, and non-consumption of mer- 
chandise from Great Britain. One article provided that the 
parties to the Association would neither import nor purchase 
any slave imported after the first day of December, and 
would wholly discontinue the slave-trade, and refuse to deal 
with those concerned in it. Another stipulated not only 
for non-intercourse with the inhabitants of any colony that 
did not accede to or that might hereafter violate this Asso- 
ciation, but for holding them " as unworthy the rights of 
freemen, and as inimical to the liberties of their country." 
Another article provides that "a committee be chosen in 
every county, city, and town, by those who are qualified to 
vote for the representatives in the legislature, whose business 
it shall be attentively to observe the conduct of all persons 
touching this Association;" and these committees were 
instructed to publish in the " Gazette " the names of vio- 
lators of the Association, to the end that they might be 
" universally condemned as the enemies of American liberty." 
The committees of correspondence were charged to inspect 
the entries at the custom-houses. Thus the Association was 
virtually law, bearing on the individual ; and a penalty was 
affixed to all violations of it. 

The Association has been termed a compact formed for 
the preservation of American rights, "a league of the 
continent, which first expressed the sovereign will of a free 
nation in America," and the commencement of the Amer- 
ican Union. 1 It was an embodiment of the sentiment of 

1 " The signature of the Association by the members of congress may be considered 
as the commencement of the American Union." Hildreth, iii. 46. 

"Among all our original associates in the memorable league of the continent in 


union, and of the will of the people on the subject of their 
commercial relations, the first enactment, substantially, 
of a general law by America. For nearly two years the 
instrument was termed " The Association of the United 
Colonies." 1 

On the llth of October, Richard Henry Lee, William 
Livingston, and John Jay were appointed a committee to 
prepare a memorial to the people of British America, and an 
address to the people of Great Britain. 

The address, prepared by Jay, was reported on the 18th 
of October, when it was debated by paragraphs, amended, 
and recommitted, and three days later (October 21) was 
approved. The British people are addressed as " Friends 
and Fellow-Subjects." The object of the address was to 
show wherein this " unhappy country was not only oppressed, 
but abused and misrepresented," to present the American 
view of the relations between the people of the colonies and 
of England, and to show the necessity of a strict execution 
of the measures recommended by the congress, in order to 
secure " the invaluable rights and liberties derived from the 
laws and constitution of their country." The address has 
this remark : " You have been told that we are seditious, 
impatient of government, and desirous of independency. 
Be assured that these are not facts, but calumnies. Permit 
us to be as free as yourselves, and we shall ever esteem a 
union with you to be our greatest glory and greatest happi- 
ness ; " and it closed by expressing the hope that evil coun- 
sels might be rejected, and thereby might be restored " that 

1774, which first expressed the sovereign will of a free nation in America, he [ Wash- J 
ington] was the only one remaining in the general government." President John 
Adams, answer to the Senate, Dec. 22, 1799. 

The articles of association, with the signatures, were printed on a broadside by 
Edes and Gill, of Boston, who say, "We are induced to publish thus early, purely 
to ease the impatience of our readers." It is in the Boston papers of Nov. 7, 1774. 

i "June 7, 1775. Resolved, that Thursday, the 20th of July, be observed 
throughout the twelve united colonies." Journals, i. 67. 

Nov. 8, 1775. Congress instructed a committee to endeavor to engage "the 
inhabitants of the colony of Canada to accede to the Association of the United Colo- 
nies." Ibid., i. 224. 


harmony, friendship, and fraternal affection, between all the 
inhabitants of His Majesty's kingdoms and territories, so 
ardently wished for by every true and honest American." 

The memorial to the people of the colonies, prepared by 
Richard Henry Lee, was reported on the 19th of October, 
and approved two days later (October 21). It was the 
object of this paper to show that the Declaration of Rights 
was based on the solid foundation of wisdom and justice ; 
for, it was remarked, from counsels thus tempered arose the 
surest hopes of Divine favor, the firmest encouragement to 
the parties engaged, and the strongest recommendation of 
their cause to mankind. Congress faithfully advised their 
constituents that the aspect of ministerial schemes rendered 
it prudent that they should extend their views to mournful 
events, and be in all respects prepared for every contin- 
gency ; and they say in closing, " Above all things we ear- 
nestly entreat you, with devotion of spirit, penitence of 
heart, and amendment of life, to humble yourselves, and 
implore the power of Almighty God ; and we humbly 
beseech his Divine Goodness to take you into his gracious 

On the 21st of October, Thomas Gushing, Richard Henry 
Lee, and John Dickinson were appointed a committee to 
prepare an address to the people of Quebec, and a letter to 
the unrepresented colonies of St. John's, Nova Scotia, Geor- 
gia, and East and West Florida. The letter briefly com- 
mended to these colonies the measures agreed on, and urged 
their adoption " with all the earnestness that a well-directed 
zeal for American liberty can prompt." The address to 
Quebec, drawn up by Dickinson, was reported on the 24th, 
recommitted, and on the 26th again reported, when, after de- 
bate by paragraphs, it was adopted. It was quite elaborate, 
and handled the questions of civil and religious liberty with a 
masterly hand. Congress informed the people of Quebec that 
" the injuries of Boston had roused and associated every col- 
ony from Nova Scotia to Georgia," and that their " province 


was the only link wanting to complete the bright and strong 
chain of union." In reference to the objection that might 
arise from joining Catholic and Protestant States, the congress 
remarked, " that the transcendent nature of freedom elevated 
those who unite in her defence above all such low-minded 
infirmities." Quebec was invited to send delegates to the 
next congress, and thus put its fate, " not on the small influ- 
ence of their single province, but on the consolidated power 
of North America." 

On the first day of October, Richard Henry Lee, John 
Adams, Thomas Johnson, Patrick Henry, and Mr. Rutledge 
were appointed a committee to prepare a loyal petition to 
the king, and were unanimously instructed to request, duti- 
fully, his attention to American grievances, entreat his inter- 
position for their removal, and thereby restore the harmony 
" so necessary to the happiness of the British Empire, and 
so ardently desired by all America." Two days after, the 
committee were further instructed to assure His Majesty 
that the colonies would make provision to carry on the 
government, and to grant supplies in case of war ; and a 
third instruction the day following directed them to add 
the assurance, that, " in case the colonies should be restored 
to the state they were in at the close of the war," the jeal- 
ousies created by late Acts of parliament would be removed, 
and commerce again restored. The committee did not report 
until the 21st of October. The draft, prepared by Henry, 
was not satisfactory ; Dickinson was added to the committee, 
and the subject was recommitted. A second draft, by the 
latter, was reported on the 24th, debated the next day by 
paragraphs, amended, and ordered to be engrossed. The 
petition purports to be in behalf of " the inhabitants of 
these colonies," enumerates the grievances composing a 
" destructive system of colony administration," attributes it 
to dangerous and designing men, and avers that the senti- 
ments expressed are " extorted from hearts that much more 
willingly would bleed in His Majesty's service." It claims 


to be addressed to a sovereign who glories in the name of 
Briton, the loving father of a whole people, who, though 
dwelling in various countries, are connected by the same 
bonds of law, loyalty, faith, and blood ; and it declared that 
this people did not wish for a diminution of the prerogative 
or solicit the grant of any new right, and would always 
endeavor to maintain their connection with Great Britain : 
but they claimed the right to enjoy in peace, safety, and 
liberty the inheritance left by the forefathers. Two copies 
of this petition were signed by all the members, and were 
ordered to be sent to the colonial agents in London. 1 

Congress passed a warm and grateful vote of thanks to 
the noble advocates of civil and religious liberty, in and out 
of parliament, who had generously defended the cause of 
America ; fixed upon the 10th of May following for another 
congress, unless meantime there should be a redress of 
grievances ; and invited all the colonies in North America 
to send deputies to it. It dissolved on. the 26th of October. 

Its measures were received by the ' two political parties 
into which the people were divided in a spirit corresponding 
to their principles and aims. 

The Whigs welcomed them with joy and exultation. " Last 
week," runs a newspaper editorial, " the grand Continental 
Congress ended ; they having, in a manner highly honorable 
to themselves and constituents, and serviceable to their coun- 
try, finished the important business on which they were ap- 
pointed, and met to deliberate and determine for a great and 
increasing nation. The world has hardly ever seen any 
assembly that had matters of greater consequence before 
them, that were chosen in a more honorable manner, were 

1 Henry Stevens, in his " Bibliotheca Historica, " p. 87, 1870, states that he has 
one of these petitions, containing the signatures of fifty of the delegates, which was 
carefully preserved by Franklin. One copy was presented to the king, and is in the 
State Paper Office. No copy was retained by congress. In January, 1775, a pam- 
phlet was printed in London, it is believed by Franklin, containing the proceedings 
of congress, the title-page of which says: "To which is added (being now first 
printed by authority) an authentic copy of the Petition to the King." 


better qualified for the high trust reposed in them, executed 
it in a more faithful, judicious, and effectual manner, or were 
more free and unanimous in their conclusions, than this. 
Their proceedings are all drawn with a masterly hand ; the 
expediency of every adopted measure is clearly pointed put ; 
and the whole plan is so well calculated, so tempered with 
goodness and wisdom, with mildness and resolution, so 
guarded by prudence and supported by reason, that in all 
probability it can hardly fail of the desired effect." l Thanks 
to the congress re-echoed from the generous breasts of 
grateful thousands. Eighteen Hundred and Seventy-Four, 
it was said, would be a year of triumphant jubilee, when 
medals, pictures, fragments of writings, would revive the 
memory of these proceedings, and when, if any adventi- 
tious circumstances could give precedency, it would be to 
inherit the blood or even to possess the name of a member 
of the glorious assembly. 2 

' Illustrious Con